Are the Miami Marlins really worth $1.2 billion to the next owner?

The Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich are cornerstones of the outfield as well as the franchise. Denis Poroy/Getty Images

Editor's note: This piece originally ran in May 2017, before a prospective sale.

Jeffrey Loria is about to pull off one of the most profitable franchise sales in modern baseball history. What's clear is Loria's massive success in making money. Less clear is the value of the franchise he is cashing out on.

For those who believe that baseball ownership involves some sort of civic trust, Loria left a lot to be desired. Since Loria took over the franchise in 2002, Marlins payrolls have consistently ranked near the bottom of the league, ranking last more times (five) than the team has finished last in the NL East (four). The team hasn't finished with a winning record since 2009 and hasn't made the playoffs since winning the World Series in 2003. After the city and county built a new stadium with half a billion dollars in taxpayer money, Loria responded with payrolls last or second-to-last in three of the stadium's first four seasons.