Dan Le Betard grills MLB commissioner over Derek Jeter-Marlins sale in testy interview

  • MLB commissioner Rob Manfred was a guest on Dan Le Betard’s radio show, and faced a gauntlet of questions regarding the sale of the Miami Marlins.
  • Le Betard pushed Manfred to admit that he knew that Derek Jeter and his group planned to gut the team and slash their payroll, a charge that Manfred repeatedly denied.
  • Jeter has come under criticism since taking over the team, having traded away three of the Marlins most talented players in moves that appear to put finances ahead of baseball.

ESPN’s Dan Le Betard conducted a stinging interview with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred on Wednesday, grilling the commissioner on the details of the Miami Marlins sale to a group led by Derek Jeter.

The conversation was contentious from the start, with Le Betard saying, “Baseball has been really bad to South Florida for many years, and I don’t believe baseball deserves a single customer in South Florida,” just moments before introducing the commissioner.

It only got more heated from there. Le Betard bluntly asked whether or not Manfred knew of Jeter’s plan to slash the Marlins’ payroll. Manfred denied having knowledge of any of Jeter’s specific plans for the group while going through the approval process.

“We are starting with a lie, Rob,” Le Batard said. “That’s where we’re starting.”

Manfred continued to insist that decisions such as the ones Jeter has made to cut the Marlins’ budget were made at a local level, independent of his purview as commissioner. “We did not have player-specific plans from the Miami Marlins or any other team that we approve in the ownership process.”

On Thursday, Le Batard said during his show that he had seen the “Project Wolverine” proposal Jeter’s group put together for MLB and knew the commissioner was not being truthful. This was echoed by Barry Jackson at the Miami Herald who reported that Jeter’s plan was vetted and approved by MLB, and that that plan included slashing the team’s budget from $US115 million to $US85 million.

“A source directly involved in the Marlins sales process, after hearing the Le Batard interview, said, via text: ‘Commissioner said was not aware of [Jeter] plan to slash payroll. Absolutely not true. They request and receive the operating plan from all bidders.

“‘Project Wolverine [the name for Jeter’s plan] called on his group to reduce payroll to $US85 million. This was vetted and approved by MLB prior to approval by MLB. Every [Jeter] investor and non investor has the Wolverine financial plan of slashing payroll to $US85 million. Widely circulated.”

You can watch the heated interview unfold below.

Since buying the Marlins, Jeter has turned the team into the baseball equivalent of a garage sale, dealing star players including Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon, and Marcell Ozuna and getting less in return than fans desired. While meeting and taking questions from fans of the franchise on Tuesday, Jeter was taken to task by those who felt he was gutting the team.

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