After keeping a fairly low profile in the first year following his retirement, Derek Jeter has recently begun speaking out once again about his desire to be the owner of an MLB franchise. The Captain was on hand to watch the Rays take on the Cuban National team in Havana, and told ESPN, “I’ve always been very vocal about my next goal…to be part of an ownership group.” He went on to say, “The first step is sitting next to that guy right there to our left… the commissioner. I’m trying to get on his good side and hopefully get that opportunity.” He also joked that he may not have the finances required for such a position, asking, “Do you know how much those teams cost?”
Obviously Jeter will have no trouble being approved as a potential owner by Rob Manfred. He’s one of the most universally beloved and respected figures in recent baseball history. There are few people better positioned in terms of reputation to take on a prominent role in the game. And for all his humility, he certainly has the funds to buy a minority stake in a major league team. According to Baseball-Reference, Jeter took home over $265 million in his career, not counting the many lucrative endorsement deals he’s signed. The only question then is what MLB team he is looking to buy into.
New York would be the obvious fit of course. He’s a frontrunner for the most iconic living Yankee and has always had a good relationship with the Steinbrenner family. When he first brought up his interest in owning a team back in 2014, he told the crowd at his annual Turn 2 Foundation dinner, “I learned a lot of things from The Boss [former Yankees owner George Steinbrenner].” While the Steinbrenner family has no interest in selling the team, they may be willing to bring him in as a minority shareholder and team spokesman, similar to the role Magic Johnson has in Los Angeles. However, there are already a lot of vocal personalities in the Yankee ownership group. Given Jeter’s stated desire to be “calling the shots, not answering to someone,” that kind of role may not be appealing with the Yanks.
Buster Olney of ESPN recently cited “buzz within the industry” that Jeter will “eventually but inevitably join the Tampa Bay Rays’ ownership group.” Given that Jeter makes his home in Tampa and the Rays desire to relocate to a new ballpark, joining forces could make sense for both sides. The cash-strapped Rays could use Jeter’s popularity and influence within the industry to gain some national attention and get a much-needed stadium deal for the struggling franchise. While it would certainly be strange to see Jeter associated with another MLB club after spending his entire 20 year career with New York, ultimately he needs to find the right fit for him.