MIAMI (AP) — Back in the ballgame, Derek Jeter says he’ll be a hands-on owner for the Miami Marlins who will learn on the job and rely heavily this offseason on the president of baseball operations Michael Hill.
Jeter and new controlling owner Bruce Sherman spoke publicly for the first time Tuesday about their group’s $1.2 billion purchase of the Marlins. The news conference came two days after the Marlins concluded their eighth consecutive losing season, the longest streak in the majors.
“We are a rebuilding franchise,” said Jeter, who played on five World Series champions with the New York Yankees. “We are putting the right people in place.”
While Jeter acknowledged he’s a novice at running the team, he already has learned not to tip his hand. He declined to shed any light on whether slugger Giancarlo Stanton, manager Don Mattingly or others have a future with the Marlins, or what sort of direction he envisions for the team.
“You’re trying to get me to tell you what I’m going to do?” Jeter said. “Some things you keep private. But yeah, we do have to rebuild.”
Jeter and Sherman wouldn’t even discuss plans for the garish Marlins Park home run sculpture — loved by some, hated by many.
“I read I was getting rid of it,” said Jeter, who added that’s not necessarily true.
“Every one of our partners has an opinion,” Sherman said with a smile.
There are at least eight other investors. Sherman has the highest equity stake at about 46 percent. Jeter has about a 4 percent stake, and he’ll lead baseball and business operations.
“I’m not coming in here thinking I know everything about team ownership. I do not,” the former Yankees captain said. “One thing I’m good at is knowing what I do not know. I surround myself with people who are much smarter than I am.
“We have some wonderful people who are working in this organization now. We are going to add some quality people as well to help us turn this organization around.”
Among those staying — for now, at least — will be Hill, who has been with the Marlins for their entire 14-year playoff drought.
Jeter said he hasn’t met with any players, and declined to discuss the future of Stanton, the major league home run and RBI champion, whose salary will nearly double next year to $25 million. That could make him unaffordable for the revenue-challenged franchise, and Jeter alluded to speculation that a payroll purge looms.
“I don’t like the word teardown,” Jeter said. “Moving forward, there are going to at times be unpopular decisions we make. We have a plan, but at the same time we have to have patience.”
Writing on the Players’ Tribune website earlier Tuesday, Jeter recalled his first trip to Florida, when he was 17 and being recruited by the Miami Hurricanes.
“To this day I still remember how it felt,” he wrote. “The music, the weather, the diversity — I remember how alive Miami was.”
Jeter said the new ownership group will celebrate the culture and diversity of South Florida.
He described the purchase of the team as a long process that was “draining at times.” But he said Miami has always made him feel welcome, and it’s time to return the favor.
“Doing things the right way, over and over, leads to sustained success,” he wrote. “That journey starts today. It will not happen overnight. But our ownership group is focused on building a team that this community can be proud of.”