If the possibility of Derek Jeter becoming a part owner of the Miami Marlins seems a bit strange, consider what the baseball landscape would be like today if current Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria had been able to swing a deal for Jeter when Loria owned the Montreal Expos.
Jeter and former Florida governor Jeb Bush head a group hoping to buy the Marlins from Loria. The sale is subject to approval by Major League Baseball. Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that “multiple groups” are interested in acquiring the Marlins and that no resolution has been made.
Loria, a native New Yorker who grew up a Yankees fan and made part of his reported $500-million fortune as a private art dealer, became the managing general partner of the Expos in December 1999. He instructed general manager Jim Beattie to ask Yankees GM Brian Cashman what it would take to acquire Jeter. Beattie said the Expos’ offer featured power-hitting outfielder Vladimir Guerrero, who earlier this year fell 15 votes short of making the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
“Mr. Loria really wanted Jeter,’’ said Beattie, a former Yankees pitcher who now is a scout for the Blue Jays. “I kept telling him it wasn’t going to happen and he said, ‘Well, you have to make the call.’ I called Cash and at a point I said, ‘Jeffrey is really interested in Jeter.’ Cash said, ‘No, we’re not going to trade.’ I said, ‘I understand that. Just for conversation and I’m not even sure we would do this, would you trade him for Guerrero?’
“There was silence on the other end. He said, ‘Would you do that?’
“Cash said, ‘That’s a crazy offer, but I’m just not going to trade him. He is a franchise player for us and we’re not going to trade him.’ You could try to trade for him, but they weren’t going to trade him. Yeah, there was an effort.’’
Jeter, who already had been Rookie of the Year and had three World Series titles with the Yankees, wasn’t going anywhere.
“I remember him asking me about Jeter and obviously I remember telling him no,’’ Cashman said of his conversation with Beattie. “He told me ‘my owner asked me to make the call,’ something like that.’’
Neither general manager recalled other players that were to be included in the proposed trade.
Loria, 76, reached at his Manhattan residence Tuesday, said, “I have nothing to say.’’
Loria sold the nearly bankrupt Expos to Expos Baseball, LP a subsidiary of Major League Baseball, in 2002 and bought the Marlins for $158.5 million. His Florida team beat the Yankees in six games to win the 2003 World Series.
Meanwhile, the rudderless Expos foundered in Montreal. Guerrero signed a free-agent deal with the Anaheim Angels in 2004, leaving the team without a star player. The team played 22 “home” games in San Juan, Puerto Rico, that year and relocated from Montreal to Washington, D.C., becoming the Washington Nationals.
Would a player like Jeter have saved the Expos? Thanks to Cashman’s unwillingness to even consider a deal for the future Yankees captain, the world will never know.
Comparing Derek Jeter and Vladimir
Guerrero from 2000 until retirement:
197 Home runs357
.307 Batting avg.318
15 Seasons of service12