Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is close to selling the team to local businessman Jorge Mas, according to a report by Forbes.
While the deal is not official or finalized, this appears to be the closest that any bidder has come to winning the team. Mas would be set to send over $1.17 billion for the rights to the team. Unlike the other bidders, Mas does not have a large group surrounding him. The billionaire appears set to fund most of the purchase himself.
The Marlins made no comment to NBC 6 on the report. However, the Miami Herald said the team denied the report and has stated that negotiations are ongoing. Until a deal is completed, this is likely going to be the official word from the team. Major League Baseball has also not confirmed a deal is close at this point.
For some time, it appeared New York Yankees' superstar Derek Jeter would take control of the Marlins. Jeter however ran into financial problems and was unable to find willing partners for the endeavor. Jeter wanted to run the team, but only was planning to invest a small amount of his own money. This scenario did not appeal to wealthy investors it appears.
Another group headlined by Tagg Romney and Tom Glavine was also in the box, but it appeared to limit itself to a lower total. Mas went above that number to leap into the lead position. Should the agreement become official, Mas would be buying the team for less than the original asking price. Loria set a reported $1.3 billion price tag originally.
Should Mas complete the sale, he will have a lot of work ahead of him. The Marlins have several large contracts on the books and the payroll is only expected to climb in the coming years.