Marlins president David Samson talks about the process of selling the Marlins to a group headed by Derek Jeter.
As the Miami Marlins took the first important step toward the Derek Jeter Era, the name and reputation was enough to generate hope.
The former New York Yankees captain has yet to speak publicly about plans he and partner Bruce Sherman have if their agreement to purchase the Marlins is approved by major league owners.
For the moment, word that a deal has been reached for the five-time World Series champion to run the team's baseball and business operations was enough to send a buzz through the clubhouse and fan base.
"With Derek, his name is synonymous with winning," Marlins backup catcher A.J. Ellis said. "That really is the only thing you need to know, that his commitment and desire to win and everything he did as a player was directed to winning that game and leading his team toward a championship. You can only anticipate that will be his daily expectation here."
Marlins president David Samson confirmed Saturday that an agreement was signed about 11:30 p.m. Friday and submitted to Major League Baseball for a group headed by Jeter and Sherman, a retired money manager to purchase the team from Jeffrey Loria.
The transaction will be reviewed by the ownership committee next week in Chicago, with a target of being voted on in September and a closing by early October. It will require approval from 21 of the other 29 owners.
According to numerous reports, the sale price was $1.2 billion. The Jeter-Sherman group outbid two other groups, including one headed by Miami businessman Jorge Mas.
"The only thing I'll add right now is we feel really good," Samson said. "It was made because we thought it was in the best interest of the franchise to go forward at this time with this group.
"Bruce Sherman truly is a man who has a passion for baseball and a love of baseball. Derek Jeter is an incredibly capable individual. Forget what he did on the field, he's incredibly capable off the field," Samson continued. "Thinking about what it would mean for our community and our fans, it just made the most sense."
Samson said Mas has not joined with Jeter's group, contrary to media reports, and will not be a partner in the agreement that owners will consider in the coming weeks.
"If that's the case, it's exciting," center fielder Christian Yelich said. "[Jeter] was my favorite player growing up. So to be playing in the organization that he is a potential owner of is exciting.
"As a player you want to know the direction that you're headed as an organization. I feel like we've kind of been at a standstill this year. To know which way it's going to be will be nice to know. A lot of stuff hasn't been able to happen or can't happen until the new ownership [is in place]."
Samson confirmed that Sherman, 69, will be the new ownership group's control person, while Jeter, 43, will become the first African-American to head operations of a team in MLB. The former shortstop is believed to be investing $25 million of his own money.
Sherman, a Naples resident, headed the Naples-based Private Capital Management before retiring in 2009.
Jeter, who lives in Tampa, has expressed an interest in owning a major league team since retiring as a player in 2014. He has been involved throughout the bidding process for the Marlins, beginning early this year, but with an ever-changing group of investors.
Marlins president David Samson discusses the sale of the team to group headed by Derek Jeter and Bruce Sherman.
Jeter's current group is comprised of 16 investors, including NBA legend and Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan.
"I'm a little more pumped that Michael Jordan's in the group than Jeter," quipped closer Brad Ziegler, who allowed one hit in five at-bats to Jeter.
Ellis was with the Los Angeles Dodgers through the protracted sage of then-owner Frank McCourt's divorce that led to bankruptcy and ultimately sale of the team to the Guggenheim Group in 2012.
Due to his experience in LA, Ellis said some Marlins teammates have sought his counsel about what to expect as the saga of a potential sale that began in spring training dragged on.
"Usually when these transactions happen it's very positive because the new ownership will come in and inject new energy and new life and new resources and try to make this the best place it can be," Ellis said.
That has certainly been the case for the Dodgers, who have won several division titles under new ownership and have the best record in baseball this season. They also have the backing of resources in the nation's second-largest market that are not present in Miami, notably a lucrative regional TV deal.
At this point, what type of leadership and direction Jeter and Sherman will take the Marlins is unknown.
"When you have someone as decorated as Derek is as player, you just know that same passion and energy is going to transition to his new role," Ellis said. "You can tell he's very meticulous in his decision-making. He's identified that this is a place that can become a winner very quickly, which is very encouraging for all the guys in this clubhouse to know."
The Marlins haven't reached the playoffs since 2003, when they won their second World Series, and haven't had a winning season since 2009.
Among many questions to be answered is Samson's future with the team. He said that hasn't been determined but that he is open to working with the new owners, saying, " I have never discussed my status. It's not about me."
Loria has not addressed his future plans. He was cited earlier this year as a candidate to become the U.S. ambassador to France. He was an unpopular figure during his 18 years running the Marlins, but Samson said Loria will leave behind a positive legacy.
"As far as I'm concerned, the stadium that Jeffrey got built is what guaranteed the future of the Marlins," Samson said. "Having this beautiful ballpark. But sometimes, teams change hands. Having Derek Jeter run this team, along with Bruce Sherman, I think it's just an opportunity for a change."
What form will Jeter's leadership take? Even the players can only guess.