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."

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Derek Jeter since taking over as Marlins co-owner
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Derek Jeter since taking over as Marlins co-owner
MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 03: Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter speak with members of the media at Marlins Park on October 3, 2017 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 03: Principal owner Bruce Sherman and CEO Derek Jeter speak with members of the media at Marlins Park on October 3, 2017 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 14: In this handout photo provided by One Voice: Somos Live!, Giselle Blondet, Chayanne and Derek Jeter speak onstage at One Voice: Somos Live! A Concert For Disaster Relief at Marlins Park on October 14, 2017 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rick Diamond/One Voice: Somos Live!/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 26: Derek Jeter speaks onstage for Derek Jeter On Finding Professional Fulfillment After The Dream Career Featuring Derek Jeter, Founder, The Players' Tribune, And Jeff Levick, CEO, The Players' Tribune during Fast Company Innovation Festival at 92nd Street Y on October 26, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Fast Company)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 26: Derek Jeter attends Derek Jeter On Finding Professional Fulfillment After The Dream Career Featuring Derek Jeter, Founder, The Players' Tribune, And Jeff Levick, CEO, The Players' Tribune during Fast Company Innovation Festival at 92nd Street Y on October 26, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Fast Company)
MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 03: Derek Jeter attends an NBA game between the Miami Heat and the Golden State Warriors at American Airlines Arena on December 3, 2017 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christopher Trotman/Getty Images)
Miami Marlins co-owner Derek Jeter speaks during a town hall meeting at Marlins Park in Miami on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017. (Al Diaz/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
Miami Marlins owner Derek Jeter with fans after a town hall meeting at Marlins Park in Miami on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017. (Al Diaz/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter talks with the media during a press conference on Tuesday, February 13, 2018 at Marlins Park in Miami, Fla. (David Santiago/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter is interviewed by Marjory Stoneman Douglas baseball team players Ricky Shimko, left, and Connor Brian before the start of a spring training baseball game against St. Louis Cardinals at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium on Friday, Feb. 23, 2018 in Jupiter, Fla. The Marlins honored Stoneman Douglas shooting victims with special hats, T-shirts, and patches. (David Santiago/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter talks with Marlins President of Baseball Operations Mike Hill during the spring training baseball workouts for pitchers and catchers on Wednesday, February 14, 2018 at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla. (David Santiago/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter, middle, chats with manager Don Mattingly and coach Perry Hill, right, during a team stretch/workout a day before the season opener, at Marlins Park in Miami on Wednesday, March 28, 2018. (Pedro Portal/El Nuevo Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter (left) speaks with Manager Don Mattingly during the Marlins' home opener game against the Chicago Cubs on Thursday, March 29, 2018 in Little Havana, Fla. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - APRIL 02: Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter looks on during the game between the Miami Marlins and the Boston Red Sox at Marlins Park on April 2, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by B51/Mark Brown/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Derek Jeter
MIAMI, FL - APRIL 02: Former New York Yankee Jorge Posada visits with CEO of the Miami Marlins Derek Jeter during the game against the Boston Red Sox at Marlins Park on April 2, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter has a word during batting practice with Marlins catching coach Brian Schneider (23) before a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Marlins Park in Miami, Wednesday, June 27, 2018. (Sam Navarro/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter during the team's batting practice before facing the Arizona Diamondbacks at Marlins Park in Miami, Wednesday, June 27, 2018. (Sam Navarro/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 10: Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter and wife Hannah Jeter watch the game between the Miami Marlins and the New York Mets at Marlins Park on August 10, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JULY 02: Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter watches the walk off single by Yadiel Rivera #2 in the tenth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Marlins Park on July 2, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 10: Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter and wife Hannah Jeter watch the game between the Miami Marlins and the New York Mets at Marlins Park on August 10, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
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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 $115 million to $85 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 $85 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 $85 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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