Derek Jeter may be a sure shot to enter the Baseball Hall of Fame, a capstone to his sterling 20-year career with the Yankees in which nearly everything seemed to go right, with five World Series titles. But his new job running the Miami Marlins may be a lot harder than hitting a fastball or turning a double play.
Jeter is part of a group of investors that, pending approval from Major League Baseball, will buy the Marlins for an estimated $1.2 billion from Jeffrey Loria, and Jeter is expected to run the team. The Marlins, though, have a host of problems that could stymie any quick turnaround. Here are partial lists, in no particular order, of some of the challenges, as well as some of the advantages, that Jeter will have in Miami:
1. The Marlins’ minor league system has been at, or near, the bottom of several rankings in the past year. Jeter will need to rebuild the farm system to ensure a pipeline of talent in the years to come.
2. When Loria has signed established stars, the contracts have been structured so that most of the money would be paid in later years. Loria often traded those players, like Carlos Delgado, who was dealt to the Mets after receiving $4 million in 2005, the first year of a four-year, $52 million contract. The one major exception has been the team’s slugger Giancarlo Stanton. After making $14.5 million this year, Stanton will receive almost $300 million through 2027. Unless another team takes Stanton and his contract, Jeter will have less room to sign free agents without drastically expanding the Marlins’ payroll.
3. The Marlins are still trying to replace Jose Fernandez, the star pitcher who died last year in a boating accident. Fernandez was more than just an ace: He was an immensely popular Cuban exile with an infectious smile to go with a dastardly slider.