Mike Ozanian of Forbes reported Thursday that two anonymous sources told him that Miami Marlins president David Sampson said the organization has a $1.6 billion “handshake agreement” to sell the team. It obviously sounds like a lot of ‘he said, she said’, but if the dollar amount is correct, that would be a significant profit for Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria who paid $158 million for the team in 2002.
The team has had five winning seasons, one playoff appearance, no division titles, and one World Series victory since Loria bought the team. Under his ownership, the team moved into Marlins Park in 2012 which cost taxpayers $639 million.
While the organization attempted to make the team an instant competitor in 2012 by spending $194 million on contracts for Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Heath Bell, and Greg Dobbs as well as trading for Wade LeBlanc, Jake Jefferies, and Carlos Zambrano, the team ended up finishing 69-93 and in last place in the National League East.
Attendance has been poor since the move aside from 2012. That season they drew 2,219,444 people to the stadium after their busy offseason. The year after they drew 1,586,322 people. That big drop was expected after breaking up a large chunk of their team. Even after finishing 79-82 in 2016, (their best record since the move) they drew their second smallest crowd since 2012 with 1,712,417 people in attendance.
The two anonymous sources did not reveal the name of the potential buyer, but they did say he is a real estate developer in New York City. His net worth in tied up in real estate so he does not have the cash to buy the team. Instead he would be taking on a lot of debt in order to purchase the Marlins.