Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has switched sides in pursuit of the Miami Marlins, and he’s trying to beat out former teammate Derek Jeter.
Bush has joined forces with businessman Tagg Romney in a group trying to buy the Marlins, two people familiar with the negotiations said Friday. The people confirmed Bush’s new role to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the parties involved in the sales talks aren’t commenting publicly.
One of the people said South Florida businessman Jorge Mas has contacted the Marlins to say he’s leading a group interested in buying the franchise, meaning at least three groups are pursuing a deal.
Bush and Jeter, the 14-time New York Yankees All-Star shortstop, led rival groups earlier this year. They then joined forces, but Bush dropped out in May.
Now they’re rivals again, and Jeter is still exploring financing options.
The Romney-Bush group also includes Quogue Capital investment fund founder Wayne Rothbaum, Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Glavine and former Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Dave Stewart.
The Romney and Jeter groups have bid about $1.3 billion to buy the team from Jeffrey Loria but have not yet raised the money needed. Jeter met Thursday with Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred and Marlins president David Samson, and told them he doesn’t yet have the necessary money and is still seeking help from other investors.
Loria bought the Marlins for $158.5 million in 2002 from John Henry.
Mas is the chairman of the board and co-founder of MasTec, an infrastructure construction business, and chairman of the board of the Cuban American National Foundation, a Miami-based organization committed to bringing democracy to Cuba.
Bush also lives in Miami, served two terms as governor from 1999-2007 and was an unsuccessful candidate last year for the Republican nomination for president.
Romney, the son of former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, is a Massachusetts businessman and venture capitalist.
One of the people confirming Bush’s withdrawal from the bid with Jeter in May said the former governor didn’t put up enough of his own money to have the controlling interest he sought. The commissioner’s office wants the purchasing group to demonstrate it has enough cash both to close the deal and operate the team.
The value of the franchise has climbed dramatically even though the Marlins haven’t been to the postseason since 2003, the longest current drought in the National League. They were last in the NL in attendance 11 of the past 12 years despite a 2012 move to Marlins Park.
A sale requires approval of at least 75 percent of the major league clubs.