Derek Jeter out as Marlins CEO, citing different ‘vision for the future of the franchise’

Jordan McPherson/jmcpherson@miamiherald.com
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Miami Marlins chairman and principal owner Bruce Sherman said in a statement Monday that the organization and CEO Derek Jeter have “agreed to officially end their relationship” after four MLB seasons.

Jeter was entering the final year of a five-year contract that would have expired after the 2022 season.

In a statement, Jeter said he is also giving up his 4 percent stake as a shareholder in the franchise and that the reason for his departure was because “the future of the franchise is different than the one I signed up to lead.”

“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,” Jeter said. “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.”

How exactly the vision changed wasn’t made clear.

One thing that has been abundantly clear, though: The success Jeter strove for was rarely seen on the MLB level during his front-office tenure.

Remember, Jeter was a Hall of Fame shortstop during his 20-year career, all with the New York Yankees. He was a 14-time All-Star, five-time World Series champion, five-time Gold Glove award winner and five-time Silver Slugger.

The Marlins, meanwhile, went 218-327 since 2018, the club’s first season after the Jeter/Sherman ownership group bought the team from previous owner Jeffrey Loria in September 2017. They made the playoffs once after going 31-29 in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and advancing to the National League Division Series when the playoffs featured 16 teams instead of the usual twelve.

The Marlins’ record the other three seasons: 63-98 in 2018, 57-105 in 2019 and 67-95 in 2021.

The Marlins have spent this time building the organization’s depth from the bottom up to build a team that Jeter hoped would have sustainable long-term success. They traded big-name players (Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna, J.T. Realmuto and Dee Strange-Gordon) during the first two seasons in order to add prospects to a talent-barren farm system.

Only eight players on the Marlins’ 40-man roster — shortstop Miguel Rojas, third baseman Brian Anderson, pitchers Pablo Lopez, Trevor Rogers, Edward Cabrera, Jordan Holloway and Braxton Garrett, and outfielder prospect Jerar Encarnacion — remain from before the Jeter/Sherman ownership group took over.

Signs of progress were seen, though. Jeter said in October he expected the Marlins, “for the first time really since we’ve been here as an ownership, to be pretty active” in the offseason.

And, relatively speaking, they were.

Sandy Alcantara, acquired in the Ozuna trade, has evolved into the staff’s ace and was given a five-year, $56 million contract extension this offseason. The club also signed outfielder Avisail Garcia and traded for infielder Joey Wendle and catcher Jacob Stallings to improve an offense that was near the bottom of the league in most key categories last season. Rojas also received a two-year extension.

The team also had its share of up-and-coming players to build around. On the position player side, middle infielder Jazz Chisholm Jr., first baseman Lewin Diaz and outfielder Jesus Sanchez all made strides at the MLB level, while outfielders JJ Bleday and Peyton Burdick are closing in on their MLB debuts. Rogers finished in second in NL Rookie of the Year voting and has turned into a quality No. 2 pitcher in the rotation behind Alcantara. Edward Cabrera made his MLB debut and showed potential at spots. Max Meyer, the club’s first-round pick in 2020, finished last season in Triple A.

“The organization is stronger today than it was five years ago,” Jeter said.

But the Marlins’ payroll is still near the bottom of the league — Miami was 27th among the 30 teams in payroll last year at $61 million — and there was no certainty the Marlins have the desire to spend considerably more than they had already done in the offseason.

On Dec. 1, when Sherman was asked if the Marlins would use additional revenue generated by an upgraded television deal and the stadium naming rights with loanDepot on big-league payroll, all Sherman said was the Marlins would do “whatever we can to win.”

Sherman in his Monday statement said the Marlins “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.” General manager Kim Ng will oversee the baseball operations as she heads into her second season with the organization. Chief operating officer Caroline O’Connor will oversee business operations.

“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,” Sherman said.

In a statement, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred thanked Jeter for “his service to the Marlins, the communities of Miami and the game.

“Derek is a winner on and off the field,” Manfred said. “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.”