FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Nov. 22 (UPI) -- The Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reported Thursday that Florida Marlins owner John Henry has reached an agreement to sell the team to an undiclosed buyer, who plans to keep the club in South Florida.
The newspaper said the deal could be approved as early as Tuesday.
Major League owners will meet next week in Chicago to futhur discuss contraction plans first raised earlier this month. Although the Montreal Expos and Minnesota Twins appear the franchises most likely to be folded, the Marlins are by no means assured of fielding a team in 2002.
However, this agreement would seem to indicate that the Marlins will not be eliminated.
The deal, which is unrelated to MLB's contraction plans, needs approval by 23 of baseball's 30 owners. If it goes through, it would be the third ownership change in nine years for the Marlins, who won the 1997 World Series after a spending spree by Wayne Huizenga.
After the Marlins defeated the Cleveland Indians in a seven-game World Series, Huizenga quickly began dumping salary and eventually sold the organization to Henry in 1999 for $150 million.
Huzienga paid a $95 million expansion fee for the team in 1991, two years before the Marlins took the field. Forbes Magazine earlier this year valued the franchise at $128 million.
According to the Sun-Sentinel, the prospective new owners will pay $150 million for a team that has several young stars but which finished 76-86 this past season and is a combined 273-374 over the last four years.
While the Marlins have struggled on the field, their biggest problems have been off the field. Erratic south Florida summer weather and Pro Player Stadium, which was built for football, have kept fans away.