Mets’ Sale to Billionaire Steven A. Cohen on “Life Support”

New York Mets fans who thought they were finally rid of the Wilpons as owners could have their balloons busted as the proposed sale to hedge fund billionaire Steven A. Cohen has hit a snag.

The deal, which is designed to have the current ownership group led by Fred Wilpon, his son, Jeff and brother-in-law Saul Katz relinquish control of the team over several years to Cohen in exchange for $2.6 billion.

That deal is now said to be on ‘life support’ according to sources.

From the New York Post:

Sources close to the situation are confirming that the billionaire hedge fund manager is ending negotiations with the Wilpons on his purchase of an 80 percent stake in the franchise. According to those sources, Cohen is deeply unhappy with the Wilpons changing the terms of the deal at a very late stage and has decided to walk away.

 

When rumors broke that the Cohen deal was dead on Tuesday, the Mets offered a strangely worded non-denial.

 

“The parties are subject to confidentiality obligations, including a mutual non-disclosure agreement, and therefore cannot comment,” a statement read.

 

Sources close to Cohen tell The Post that the 63-year-old, $13 billion man is taking the NDA more seriously than the Wilpons and is holding his tongue for the time being.

The deal was a strange one to begin with and many had doubts why the sale could not happen sooner. Cohen appears to have gotten cold feet over the Wilpons nonsense of dragging things out. One reason why they wanted to keep control of the team for a few additional seasons is because the Mets are expecting to contend in the National League and they don’t want to miss it.

Cohen didn’t become a billionaire however by getting dicked around. He appears to be walking away rather than being cuckolded by the current ownership group.

Good for him. Bad for the Met fans.

Mets: Cohen Could Have Influence on New Managerial Hire

With the Wilpons on their way out as the owners of the New York Mets, the shot-calling will soon be passed to incoming owner Steve Cohen, the billionaire hedge-fund mogul who is in the process of buying out the Sterling Equities group – Fred Wilpon and his son, Jeff and brother-in-law Saul Katz.

That authority appears to be shifting sooner than people may have thought. The Mets are in the throes of hiring a new manager after Carlos Beltran stepped aside due to his role in the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal.

Cohen may not weigh in on the decision, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post, but the Mets’ brass is keeping Cohen in mind when making the hire.

The fear of team executives that Cohen would question the hiring of somebody who wasn’t considered for the job when Mickey Callaway was fired in October (veterans such as Dusty Baker and Buck Showalter, among others, weren’t interviewed) had tilted the search in quality control coach Luis Rojas’ favor as of Monday. Not only did Rojas receive multiple interviews for the job during the last managerial search, he would represent continuity, less than three weeks before pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to Port St. Lucie, Fla., for spring training.

Not all of the candidates interviewed last year are available at the moment. Derek Shelton was hired by San Diego but Baker, Showalter, Rojas and Eduardo Perez are still without teams. It would be wise for general manager Brodie Van Wagenen to hire a candidate that is more of a sure thing than a lark at this point. Cohen is watching.

 

NYC Baseball: Mets’ sale puts Yankees on notice

New York Mets, Jeff Wilpon

The New York Yankees have owned the baseball market in New York City for the past quarter decade. Their five World Championships to their crosstown rival New York Mets’ none says it all. The Yankees are approximately worth twice as much as the Mets as a result ($4.6 billion to $2.3 billion) but that should  be changing now that billionaire hedge fund manager Steve Cohen has agreed to buy controlling interest in the Mets from the Wilpons.

Cohen grew up a Mets fan (not a Dodgers fans like Fred Wilpon) in Great Neck and won’t sit idly by while the top free agents land in the Bronx, Boston, L.A. and other destinations. The Wilpons’ financial troubles (see: Madoff) have been well documented and without question have precluded them from acting as a major market franchise.

From the New York Post:

A person who had seen the email expects Cohen’s financial influence to be felt immediately, saying, “He grew up a Mets fan [in Great Neck]. He went to games in the Polo Grounds. He has deep pockets. He is a passionate fan. If I were a Met fan, I would expect that means more money [for payroll].”

 

He who controls the purse strings controls the kingdom — not someone with titles. And if Cohen is approved by the other owners — likely but no slam dunk because of his past ties to insider trading — he will control the purse strings.

 

There are no guarantees how someone will run a team and whether they will be a good owner or a bad owner once they actually are in charge. But what would shock — absolutely shock — those spoken to in the aftermath of the news that Cohen is intending to go from a minority Met owner to owning 80 percent or more of the team is that he will squeeze pennies and play to the worst of the Wilpon stereotype. The expectation is the Mets will join the Yankees and Dodgers and Red Sox among the major league payroll leaders, perhaps not in 2020, but soon.

Of course, money doesn’t always equate to happiness but it doesn’t hurt. It will all depend on who is making the baseball decisions. There has been no rumblings on whether the front office will be affected in the near future but you can bet the Mets will become a proactive organization under Cohen, not a reactive one.