Bobby Tuzzio ‘20
Chief Sports Editor
It is safe to say that the New York Mets under the control of Fred and Jeff Wilpon have yielded mixed results at best during the nearly two decades of the Wilpons operating as majority owners of the team. And who could forget the Bernie Madoff scandal, where it was reported that the Wilpons took a huge hit on their financials. Other than 2006, 2015, and 2016, the Mets have not been a postseason threat, and many have pointed at the Wilpons stinginess in terms of spending money as a main reason for the team’s lack of success this century.
However, last week, it was reported that the Wilpons would be selling their majority stake in ownership of the team to current minority owner Steve Cohen. Cohen, a billionaire who made his fortune as an investor and hedge fund manager, bought a 4% share of the Mets in 2012 for $20 million. Bloomberg reported that Cohen is in talks to acquire up to 80% of the team, which would be valued at $2.6 billion. With his net worth at a little over $13 billion, Cohen would become one of the wealthiest owners in not only baseball, but in all of sports.
So, what does this all mean for the Mets going forward? First off, the structure of the deal is set up so that Fred Wilpon will remain as control person and CEO for five years, and his son Jeff will also continue in his role as team COO. After that period, both Wilpons will be removed from the daily operations of the team. Many sources state that the Wilpons will leave their positions before their five years are up.
Another factor that affects the Mets going forward is that management is now in a position to spend large sums of money on players. In recent years, the New York’s spending has been constrained, following Bernie Madoff’s arrest in 2008 for running a Ponzi scheme. At the time of the arrest, the Wilpons and Saul Katz, the president of the Mets, had about $500 million invested with Madoff. With Cohen and his deep pockets at the helm, the Mets could now spend more money on free agents and re-signing players. Maybe the Mets could bid for players such as Bryce Harper and Gerrit Cole instead of seeing them go to other big market teams.
The only shady thing about the deal is the way in which Cohen obtained his money over the years. He has been the target of SEC fines over the years, and his hedge fund pleaded guilty to insider trading in 2013. Still, the Mets are now in a position to become a top-tier spender in the offseason.