Despite absence, Jeter talk of Owners Meetings

Former Yankees shortstop could be future Marlins executive

August 16th, 2017

CHICAGO -- With his first child due any moment, Derek Jeter was not in attendance when the quarterly Owners Meetings began in downtown Chicago on Wednesday.

But of course, that didn't stop Jeter from being the talk of the room.

The ownership committee began an initial review of the proposed sale of the Marlins from Jeffrey Loria to a group led by Jeter and financier Bruce Sherman, who was on site to get to know his potential peers. Though the $1.2 billion agreement, which is also said to include limited financial input from NBA legend Michael Jordan, is not expected to be put to vote until around the end of the regular season, it's not too soon to speculate on what kind of executive Jeter would be.

"He's not the kind of guy who's just going to add his name [to the project]," MLB chief baseball officer Joe Torre said. "He's going to roll up his sleeves."

Torre, who managed Jeter for 12 of his 20 seasons and four of his five World Series titles, said he was pretty certain that Jeter would never be a manager or coach. However, team ownership is a different avenue for Jeter to make use of his relentless competitiveness, to say nothing of his baseball expertise.

"I'm a little biased," Torre admitted. "But I had him for 12 years, and he's smart, he's got a feel for things, and he never was impressed with himself. He was very secure with who he was. His first year, he was 21 years old. By August or September, the veterans were looking for him to do something. He never shirks responsibility."

Marlins president David Samson said he gained a deeper understanding of Jeter's drive through the negotiating process that led to the proposed sale.

"I think there are a lot of people around the country who view him as a hero, but they view him as a hero at shortstop," Samson said. "His goal has always been to be viewed as a hero as an executive, in addition. I wouldn't doubt Derek Jeter. He doesn't permit failure. He is very keen on learning, and then acting. During the negotiations, he'd hear an issue, and he'd be able to wrap his arms around it very quickly, having never heard of such an issue before -- things that players would never concern themselves with. So we witnessed the transition from player into executive. It was a fascinating thing to see."

The celebration of Jeter the player is obvious, well-traveled road. He will likely be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and the outpouring of love he received on his 2014 retirement tour spoke to the respect he engenders across the sport.

Ownership will be an inherently different challenge for Jeter, one Jordan has encountered with the NBA's Charlotte Hornets. People don't pluck down their hard-earned cash to go to the ballpark and see the team owner. They want a winning product, and if the deal goes through, Jeter will have to do his part to find the right people and the right players to strengthen a franchise that hasn't been to the postseason since 2003. He'll also have to adjust to a role in which he can't actively affect the team's fortunes on the field.

Oh, and Jeter won't be associated with the Yankees anymore, which will be a little weird for everyone.

"It's going to be a surreal experience -- in not a totally positive way -- to see him in different colors," Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said. "I think my dad would feel the same way."

But as the elder Steinbrenner could have attested to back in the day, there's nothing like being "The Boss." Though generally reticent to discuss much about himself during his playing years, Jeter was specific about his goal of one day owning a franchise. The Marlins' opportunity is the first to arise since his retirement. Though Sherman would have the controlling interest in the club as lead investor, Jeter is expected to be far more than a mere mouthpiece.

"That organization has some challenges," Steinbrenner said. "But nobody knows baseball better than Derek. As far as baseball operations, I think he'll get the job done."

Because he is biracial, Jeter would add some diversity to the ownership ranks, and that is no small thing in a sport actively attempting to improve its pipeline of diverse candidates for front-office jobs.

More than anything, Jeter, though he may be unproven in this particular realm of the game, would bring the Marlins something that not even $1.2 billion can buy.

"Credibility," Torre said. "He's a special kid."

Yes, by ownership standards, 43 qualifies as young. And Jeter's possible ownership of the Marlins is still in its infancy. But at what could very well be the last Owners Meetings that don't involve Jeter for a long while, there is wide sentiment that he'll fit in just fine here.