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Report: Savings from Marlins fire sale could wind up in Derek Jeter’s pocket

One version of Project Wolverine called for Jeter to receive multi-million dollar bonuses whenever the team makes a profit.

Plenty of dough for more courtside Miami Heat tickets.
Photo by Christopher Trotman/Getty Images

Released on Friday, the third installment of the Miami Herald’s deep dive into the Miami Marlins’ Project Wolverine business plan brings more unflattering attention to Derek Jeter’s unique role with the organization. An August version of the document—which has since undergone some revisions, according to Barry Jackson—stated that Jeter was eligible for the following annual bonuses whenever the Marlins operated in the black:

  • 2018: $2.0 million
  • 2019: $1.7 million
  • 2020: $1.1 million
  • 2021: $2.0 million
  • 2022: $2.0 million

Previous owner Jeffrey Loria plunged the club into significant debt in the years prior to completing the sale (four hundred million dollars’ worth, to be precise). From afar, bucking that trend would seem like an achievement deserving of some additional compensation.

However, turning a profit is practically assured during the new group’s inaugural season. Trades of Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon have trimmed the 2018 payroll, with remaining stars Christian Yelich and J.T. Realmuto also drawing widespread interest from all around the sport. More significantly, the Marlins—just like every other team—will collect $50 million in 2018 thanks to MLB’s sale of the digital media company BAMTech. Combined with $17 million in regional television revenue and any semblance of home attendance, that’ll comfortably cover expenses.

Completely aside from his minority ownership stake, Jeter earns a $5 million salary for CEO responsibilities. So factoring in the potential bonus, the Marlins would be literally paying him $7 million. Yelich is owed exactly $7 million next year in the midst of a below-market contract extension. Approving transactions that depleted the major league roster enriches this decision-maker just enough to pull even with his talented player, who’s now tasked with carrying the wreckage to respectability.

Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

What an ugly juxtaposition. Coincidentally, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that Joe Longo (Yelich’s agent) was scheduled to meet with Marlins executives on Thursday, right before these particular details were made public.

Looking ahead to 2019 and beyond, sustaining that profitability will hinge on 1) building a competitive team fans will actually pay to see in person, and 2) securing an improved TV deal that’s structured closer to MLB norms. Jeter’s rosy financial projections from the first part of Jackson’s series even admitted those would be critical factors.