Derek Jeter’s Failed Miami Marlins Experiment Damages New York Star’s Squeaky-Clean Brand
Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images. Pictured: Derek Jeter
When Derek Jeter took the job to run the baseball side of the Miami Marlins, he felt like he was in a no-lose situation.
He got to own 4 percent of the team by fronting $25 million, all of which he would get back from a $5 million salary in each of the next five years.
And although Jeter got that payday and is now being bought out of his Marlins stake for what could be up to $40 million, the negative impact to Jeter’s brand throughout the five-year experiment has been colossal.
Yes, he’s always going to be a New York Yankee legend for what he did on the field. But he could not have played his cards worse as an executive, and his lack of foresight in picking the Marlins will hurt his prospects for the future.
First, there was brand dilution immediately from associating with the Marlins. It would be as if Rolls-Royce did a collaboration with Honda.
Plus, you could see from a mile away that owner Bruce Sherman wasn’t going to spend. Buying the Marlins was a big enough stretch.
And so it was Jeter who quickly became the face when payroll got slashed from $115 million his first year down to $56.9 million in 2021 with a low of $41.5 million in 2020.
Jeter’s lack of success comes against the perception of his rival, Alex Rodriguez, who is looked at as very successful on the business side. His business exploits of cashing in frequently reach CNBC. Plus, A-Rod’s ownership of the Minnesota Timberwolves is seen more as a real ownership than a token one like Jeter’s.
The funny part of all this is that Rodriguez was part of a team looking into the Marlins and just couldn’t make sense of the numbers Jeter’s group gave former owner Jeffrey Loria.
You are Derek Jeter. You have the world at your beck and call. And you pick the Marlins? In the situation they were in?
Maybe Michael Jordan, who also put in money to the Jeter experiment, can’t be proud of what his Hornets have done on the court, but at least he has a humungous financial windfall to show for it. Jordan spent $30 million to initially purchase 80 percent of the Hornets. He cashed out a small piece when they were worth $1.5 billion.
With what Jeter was handed and the resources he had, he would have to be one of the greatest baseball executives of all time to average a record above .500, which of course the Marlins weren’t.
Jeter will walk away with cash, but with that comes with a tarnish on his brand.
In New York, his name can always be gold. Everywhere else? Not so much.