Major League Baseball's owners unanimously welcomed Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter to the ownership ranks on Wednesday, approving the Marlins' sale to the group led by the venture capitalist and the Yankees legend.
The vote was conducted via conference call. Approval is contingent upon the closing of the sale transaction with the Marlins' current ownership, led by Jeffrey Loria. That is expected to take place within the next week.
"I wish the best to Jeffrey Loria and David Samson," Commissioner Rob Manfred said. "During their tenures, the Marlins won the 2003 World Series, hosted this season's successful All-Star Week at spectacular Marlins Park and eagerly supported our efforts to grow the game internationally. I congratulate Mr. Sherman on receiving approval from the Major League clubs as the new control person of the Marlins and look forward to Mr. Jeter's ownership and CEO role following his extraordinary career as a player."
Samson, the Marlins' president since 2002, was involved in the sale of the franchise and will not be part of the new regime.
When the sale approval was announced, the Marlins were preparing to play their final road game of the season at Colorado. The team returns to South Florida to begin a four-game set with the Braves beginning on Thursday at Marlins Park. The regular season concludes on Sunday, and the hope is the sale will be finalized so the Sherman/Jeter group can hit the ground running, perhaps as early as Monday.
Loria, who bought the Marlins in 2002, released a statement following the owners' vote.
Among the highlights of Loria's tenure were the team winning the World Series in 2003, against a Yankees team that featured Jeter at shortstop, the approval and opening of Marlins Park in '12, and Miami hosting the MLB All-Star Game last July.
"Owning the Miami Marlins has been one of the singular honors of my life," Loria said. "I want to thank our players, coaches and employees for the incredible dedication they brought to this pursuit. I also extend my heartfelt thanks to our loyal fans for your passion and commitment to what we built together."
But the franchise has struggled on the field, and the Marlins are winding down their eighth straight losing season. The Marlins, certainly not without highlights and player accolades, haven't reached the postseason since their 2003 World Series title.
"Owning a sports team, like most things in life, is temporary. An owner is merely the steward of a franchise, shepherding the advancement of this public trust during his or her tenure. I'm very proud of our collective achievements during the past 15 years, including bringing a World Series, new ballpark, World Baseball Classics and an All-Star Game to our community.
"But part of the deal is acknowledging when it's time to pass the baton to the next generation, and wish them well in taking things to the next level. With that in mind, I can't think of anyone better suited than Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter. They are true baseball people, as well as true gentlemen. I have every confidence in their ability as the next stewards of the Miami Marlins to take us to new heights.
"Although my ownership is in the past, my love of baseball is not. As an avid fan, I'll be eagerly watching from the sidelines."
When Sherman and Jeter take control, they will be the fourth ownership group since the organization began play in 1993. From Day 1, they will have plenty of decisions to make to prepare the club for 2018.
Manager Don Mattingly is winding down his second season of a four-year contract, and the belief is he will return.
"Obviously it's going to be a new group, a new thought process. We'll see where that goes," Mattingly said. "Again, we were assuming it was going to get official at some point, and then we'll have some type of direction, which way we want to go, but that just hasn't happened yet, so it's hard to kind of react to it."
President of baseball operations Michael Hill and several front-office executives are under contract through 2020. They may also be back, but perhaps in different capacities.
There have already been some changes. Last week, four current special assistants with the Marlins were informed they will not have their contracts renewed -- Jack McKeon, Andre Dawson, Tony Perez and Jeff Conine.
There's also been discussion regarding potential front-office candidates. Gary Denbo, the Yankees' vice president of player development, has been linked to joining Jeter in Miami. Also, Braves special assistant Gordon Blakeley has ties to Jeter. Blakeley is credited with helping the Yankees sign Robinson Cano and Orlando Hernandez.
Jim Hendry, the former Cubs general manager, reportedly could be in line for a position with the Marlins. Hendry was a special assistant with the Marlins under Dave Dombrowski in the 1990s, and he also coached in their Minor League system in 1993-94.
Hendry has been a special assistant with the Yankees since 2012. But a source said there has been no contact between the Sherman-Jeter group and Hendry.
Which direction the franchise is headed as far as roster construction also must be addressed. All-Star right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, who has a full no-trade clause, will have his salary jump to $25 million in 2018, and he is owed $295 million for the remainder of his contract. Meanwhile, the Marlins have several significant needs, most notably in their starting rotation.