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Report: Jeter, Jeb Bush close to buying Marlins

MLB.com @JoeFrisaro

PHILADELPHIA -- Wheels reportedly are in motion for the Marlins to accept an offer from a prospective ownership group headed by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and former Yankees great Derek Jeter.

The Miami Herald reported on Tuesday that Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has an agreement in principle to sell the club to the Bush/Jeter group for $1.3 billion. The story added that the sides are optimistic the deal could be finalized over the next couple of months. The club has not confirmed or made a formal comment addressing the report.

PHILADELPHIA -- Wheels reportedly are in motion for the Marlins to accept an offer from a prospective ownership group headed by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and former Yankees great Derek Jeter.

The Miami Herald reported on Tuesday that Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has an agreement in principle to sell the club to the Bush/Jeter group for $1.3 billion. The story added that the sides are optimistic the deal could be finalized over the next couple of months. The club has not confirmed or made a formal comment addressing the report.

"I have a policy about not commenting about sale processes, but given what's been out there today, I think it's important to clarify a couple things," Commissioner Rob Manfred said. "I am absolutely certain -- know for a fact -- that there are multiple groups interested in acquiring the Marlins. One of those groups is the Bush-Jeter group. I'm not going to go beyond that. There are multiple groups that have made bids for the club. When we have a resolution as to which bid is going to be accepted, we'll announce that publicly. Until that happens, it's just not appropriate for me to comment further."

When asked for comment on Tuesday, Marlins president David Samson stated: "I have not commented on the process and plan to keep it that way."

Since the start of Spring Training, Samson has been on record saying the team would entertain offers, without offering many specifics. On April 11, at the Marlins' home opener, Samson categorized negotiations as being in the "fourth inning."

As sale speculation escalated on Tuesday, the Marlins were preparing to face the Phillies in the first of three games at Citizens Bank Park.

"I'd rather not talk about that," manager Don Mattingly said. "Nobody has told me anything about it. Nobody from my front office has come to me and said anything is happening. I think it's premature for me to talk about it."

Bush and Jeter have been linked to a potential purchase for weeks. A few years ago, Bush inquired about purchasing the team, but at the time, Loria had no interest in selling.

Bush's brother, former president George W. Bush, formerly had an ownership stake in the Texas Rangers.

Jeter, one of the most celebrated players in Yankees history, has long been on record having interest in pursuing ownership of a big league club.

"I always felt that [Jeter] would stay in the game in some capacity," Yankees manager Joe Girardi told reporters on Tuesday. "People always mentioned him being an owner. I think he will be very good at it. He truly cares about the game. He cares about the product on the field. He cares about winning. He always had a good relationship with the fans. I think he's going to be really good at it."

Girardi managed the Marlins in 2006, being named National League Manager of the Year in his lone season in South Florida.

Mattingly made it clear the Marlins' focus right now is on the field.

"I've talked enough from the standpoint of, nothing is going to change what we're trying to accomplish. I just think it's premature," Mattingly said. "It's not worth, publicly going anywhere, until [president of baseball operations] Michael [Hill] or David or Jeffrey or somebody tells me something is concrete. Until then, I don't think there is a whole lot to continue to talk about, just a report."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Miami Marlins