Tuesday was shaping up to be a relatively quiet day for the Miami Marlins. The ripple effects of last week’s big trade are still being felt, with the club beginning Jazz Chisholm Jr.’s transition to center field and likely withholding him from the World Baseball Classic as a precaution. But other than that, not much doing locally. Maybe next year for Gary Sheffield.
Then, thanks to a heads up from terrific Twitter user @Sevento17, my attention was drawn to the eighth paragraph of a Los Angeles Times article about the Angels’ bizarre ownership situation (emphasis mine):
It is uncertain whether such a record MLB bid would have materialized. The Washington Nationals have not found a buyer despite being up for sale since April. The Baltimore Orioles and Miami Marlins could go up for sale soon, according to MLB sources who declined to be identified, and the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays have yet to secure the new ballpark that each team has sought for more than a decade.
It has been only five-and-a-half years since Bruce Sherman took over as the Marlins’ principal owner. Major League Baseball is setting new revenue records, according to Forbes, but the franchise’s current value is not estimated to be significantly higher than the $1.2 billion that Sherman’s group paid in 2017. Selling now may actually mean taking a loss. What’s the hurry?
In a statement provided to Fish Stripes and other local media, Sherman insists that the opposite is true. You want to own the Marlins? You’re only getting the privilege over his dead body:
“The Miami Marlins are not for sale, have not been for sale under my ownership, and will not be for sale in my lifetime. It is irresponsible to report otherwise. It is and will continue to be a privilege to own this great organization. I look forward to seeing our loyal fans at Opening Day on March 30th.”
More than 24 hours after publication, the LA Times has not backed off their initial reporting. That portion of the article is unchanged.
Intuitively, it is somewhat believable that Sherman would consider cashing in. The Marlins have lost 90-plus games in each of his full-length seasons in charge. The long-term outlook isn’t much brighter with a mediocre farm system and stuck sharing a division with the mighty Atlanta Braves, New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies. Sherman probably anticipated that Derek Jeter and his cronies would have put the Fish in a far more competitive position by now. How much satisfaction is he getting from perennial fourth-place finishes?
Of course, just like any other owner, Sherman is more focused on the business side than the baseball side. If the Angels are no longer for sale and the Nats are leaning toward the status quo, there could be a brief window for the Marlins to orchestrate a bidding war among the world’s multi-billionaires. Expansion franchise opportunities will be here sooner rather than later to entice them.
All things considered, the timing does not feel appropriate for this conversation. Sherman has invested more in the Marlins payroll for 2023 than he did in any prior season—I suspect he’s curious to see how that impacts attendance/merchandise, television ratings and on-field results. The vast majority of Miami’s notable players are under control for 2024, too.
Sherman did what he needed to do by denying the rumor about an upcoming sale. That doesn’t mean his “lifetime” comment should be taken at face value. This will be a storyline to monitor closely.