Multiple sources with knowledge of the negotiations have told ESPN that real estate mogul Charles Kushner, father-in-law of Ivanka Trump, is part of a potential purchase group. It is not known if he is the primary bidder.
His son Jared Kushner is the senior adviser to President Donald Trump.
The New York Times reported Thursday night that Charles Kushner's other son, Josh, and Josh's brother-in-law, Joseph Meyer, have "pursued the Marlins for several months." The newspaper reported that negotiations are being managed by Liontree, an investment the family hired.
"Under Major League Baseball rules, the Commissioner's Office must be informed of any conversations about a potential sale," Major League Baseball said in a statement provided to ESPN. "The Commissioner's Office has not heard directly or indirectly of any conversation involving Charles Kushner."
A spokesperson for Charles Kushner declined comment. Marlins president David Samson also declined comment.
Earlier Thursday, Forbes and The Associated Press reported that Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria had a preliminary agreement to sell the team for about $1.6 billion to a New York businessman, but the deal could fall through because the final purchase price hasn't been determined, a person with direct knowledge of the negotiations said Thursday.
It is not known whether Kushner is part of that group, or possibly another group that is interested in buying the team, as the source told the AP that negotiations with other parties might eventually be reopened.
In 2012, Jared Kushner submitted a bid to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers. Kushner, whose father was not included on it, withdrew from the bidding when it was clear that it was not one of the adequately financed deals. Charles Kushner looked into buying an NBA team over the past eight years, another source with knowledge told ESPN.
Financing could be an obstacle for Charles Kushner in this case, should he be the lead bidder, as much of his money is tied up in real estate. It is not known who the other bidders might be and what their financial situation is, but in order to finance a deal that Forbes said would be worth $1.6 billion, about $600 million in cash would be needed, one financing source said.
If Kushner were to be the managing partner, approval might be difficult from a public relations standpoint considering scrutiny faced by the Trump White House. Charles Kushner also served time in prison for tax evasion, witness tampering and making illegal campaign contributions.
Loria bought the Marlins from John Henry in 2002 for $158 million, funding the purchase by selling the Montreal Expos to Major League Baseball for $120 million and covering the rest with a $38 million loan from MLB.
Some of the value of the team has been boosted by MLB's Advanced Media business, which is owned equally by all owners.
The Marlins enter 2017 looking for their first winning season since 2009, as a late fade dropped Miami to a 79-82 finish in 2016.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.