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Could Politics Doom Jorge Mas Santos Bid for Marlins?

Miami MarlinsWith three groups still in the running to land the Miami Marlins, every bidder is seeking a competitive advantage. For local business leader Jorge Mas Santos, the tricky subject of Cuba politics could end up clouding or even derailing his bid.

Mas would seem to be the perfect candidate to land the Marlins. He’s wealthy and is putting his own money into the bid, decreasing the amount to be borrowed or sought from other investors. He’s local. He’d become the second Latino to own an MLB team (Arte Moreno was the first when he landed the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) in a sport filled with Latin-American players. And he’s a Cuban-American with a strong local presence.

On the negative side: he’s a Cuban-American with a strong local presence, opposed to the current Castro regime. His father, Jorge Mas Canosa, fled Cuba after the Castro revolution and opposed that regime for decade, advocating for an armed revolution to take back the island nation. He later backed off that stance, but his opposition to the Castro regime never died.

And Jorge Mas Santos shared that opposition to Castro, spearheading the Cuban American National Foundation and opposing the groundbreaking visit of the Baltimore Orioles to Havana in 1999. Since then he’s backed off a strict anti-Castro stance, embracing former President Barack Obama’s efforts to soften relations with Cuba. But memories run long in the Cuban-American community, and the issue is whether a team headed by Mas would interfere with MLB’s efforts to established a smoother pipeline to Cuban players. It may not and Mas may end up being the perfect Miami Marlins owner (indeed, he would seem to have it all), but there are some current concerns, per The New York Times:

But if Mas does get the Marlins franchise, his family history could possibly affect baseball’s continuing efforts to create a working relationship with Cuba, one that would allow players from the island to join the major leagues in an orderly fashion instead of having to endure various dangers in order to defect.

It was Mas’s father, after all, who was regularly reviled by the Cuban media as the leader of “the counterrevolutionary Miami mafia” because of his longstanding efforts to cripple the government of Fidel Castro….

What Cuba would think of all this if Mas does take over the Marlins remains to be seen. The country is now led by Raúl Castro, who succeeded Fidel, his ailing brother, in 2008. Fidel Castro died last year.

At the All-Star Game this month, which was played in Miami and which Mas attended, Commissioner Rob Manfred brushed aside a reporter’s question about the Mas family’s longstanding activism in connection with Cuba and instead focused on the strong links between the family and Miami.

As noted, three groups remain in the running to land the Marlins from Jeffrey Loria, whose asking price for the Fish is reportedly around $1.2 billion. Besides the Mas group, there are two groups led by Derek Jeter and Tagg Romney. At various points the rumor mill has put four potential ownership groups as the leader to land the team (including a now-dismissed bid from the Kushner family), so don’t believe anyone has the inside edge until a sale is announced.

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