The Miami Marlins and CEO Derek Jeter have mutually agreed to part ways. Jeter is stepping down immediately, he announced Monday in a surprising move. The Hall of Famer was baseball's first and is still the sport's only Black chief executive officer.
Here is the statement Jeter released explaining his decision, which he said was influenced by the "vision for the future" of the Marlins.
"Today I am announcing that the Miami Marlins and I are officially ending our relationship and I will no longer serve as CEO nor as a shareholder in the Club. We had a vision five years ago to turn the Marlins franchise around, and as CEO, I have been proud to put my name and reputation on the line to make our plan a reality. Through hard work, trust and accountability, we transformed every aspect of the franchise, reshaping the workforce, and developing a long-term strategic plan for success.
"That said, the vision for the future of the franchise is different than the one I signed up to lead. Now is the right time for me to step aside as a new season begins.
"My family and I would like to thank our incredible staff, Marlins fans, Marlins players, and the greater Miami community for welcoming us with open arms and making us feel at home. The organization is stronger today than it was five years ago, and I am thankful and grateful to have been a part of this team."
Saying the "vision for the future of the franchise is different than the one I signed up to lead" is sure to raise some eyebrows, and his abrupt departure suggests a falling out with others in the organization. Jeter joined the Marlins as part of Bruce Sherman's ownership group in 2017, when they purchased the team for $1.2 billion from Jeffrey Loria. Jeter held a four percent stake in the franchise and earned a $5 million per year salary. His contract was set to expire after 2022.
"The Miami Marlins and Derek Jeter announced today that they have agreed to officially end their relationship. The Marlins thank Derek for his many contributions and wish him luck in his future endeavors," Sherman said in a statement. "We have a deep bench of talent that will oversee both business and baseball decisions while we work to identify a new CEO to lead our franchise. The ownership group is committed to keep investing in the future of the franchise -- and we are determined to build a team that will return to the postseason and excite Marlins fans and the local community."
As CEO, Jeter held significant input into the team's front office and baseball operations over the years. Among those in his inner circle with the Marlins were general manager Kim Ng and director of player development and scouting Gary Denbo, both of whom have a long history with Jeter dating back to their time with the New York Yankees. The club's coaching and player development staff also features many former Yankees players and personnel.
All the Marlins baseball ops people were hastily called to a Zoom meetng where Bruce Sherman broke the news on Derek Jeter's departure. There's a strong feeling through the organization that Kim Ng has significant authority, building on the respect she has built on every level.— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) February 28, 2022
"Derek is a winner on and off the field," MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. "In addition to his valuable contributions as a front office executive, Derek was a highly respected voice on our Diversity and Competition Committees. He helped build a talented front office with the Marlins, including moving the game forward by hiring women in top roles in the Club's baseball operations and executive leadership, and a foundation that has positioned the Marlins for long-term success. Derek is a pillar of our game and we look forward to his future contributions to Baseball."
Jeter stepping down comes at a crucial and historically significant time for baseball. The ongoing owner-initiated lockout is already the second-longest work stoppage in baseball history, and Monday is an artificial deadline for the two sides to strike a deal and avoid delayed Opening Day and canceling regular season games. That said, Jeter stepping down allows the Marlins to find a new CEO and tailor their search to the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement, whenever it is finalized.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports Jeter believed the Marlins would have an additional $10 million to $15 million to spend on payroll after the lockout, which is no longer the case. That is "central to Jeter's decision to leave as CEO."
Some MLB players, including Mets star shortstop Francisco Lindor, praised Jeter's move and the timing of it, rallying around the idea of a former player not willing to go along with an owner who is unwilling to spend. More on that here.
Soon after the Jeter and Sherman took over in 2017, the Marlins gutted payroll and jettisoned top-end talent like Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna, JT Realmuto, and then reigning NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton. The club is attempting to rebuild through the farm system, and while they qualified for the expanded postseason with a 31-29 record in 2020, they lost at least 95 games in the three full 162-game seasons of the Jeter/Sherman era.