According to Joel Sherman, the Mets are transferring majority ownership from Sterling Partners (Fred Wilpon, Jeff Wilpon, Saul Katz) to a minority share owner, Steve Cohen. Who?? Cohen is a hedge fund investor with a Forbes estimated worth of $13.6 Billion. Oh, that Steve Cohen!!! If the sale is approved by the remaining investors of the Mets, for the next five years the Wilpons will maintain operating control of the team, then Cohen will assume leadership. Also, the Wilpons will continue to own SNY. After the sale, Cohen will assume 80% ownership of this $2.6 Billion franchise.

This all started with a rift between Saul Katz and Jeff Wilpon as to who should hold the reigns when 83- year old Fred Wilpon passes away. It’s quite reasonable for Katz to think ahead, but Jeff has been in control of things since 2015 when the elder Wilpon chose to step out of the limelight and give the “apple of his eye” day-to-day say on operations. Howard Megdal goes as far as to quote in his December 4, 2019 article in Forbes, “…the combination of owner overreach – one Mets source told me a backup catcher from short-season ball couldn’t be released without Jeff Wilpon weighing in – and a financial set of handcuffs place the Mets well behind other teams with less financial backing from its overall circumstances and market.” The rift we allude to above was brought about by Katz’s children over their cousin Jeff making decisions on their portion of the team, as Katz himself is 80 years old. Katz co-founded Sterling Enterprises with Fred Wilpon to build and sell townhomes in 1972 and Katz’ wife is Iris Wilpon (Fred’s sister).

Two times the Wilpon’s improved their standing in Mets ownership by controversial means. Nelson Doubleday purchased majority sharehold of the Mets for $21.1 Million in 1980 through Doubleday Publishing from Joan Payson’s daughter, Linda de Roulet, with a 5% minortity stakeholder in that deal being Sterling Enterprises. In 1986 Doubleday went to Bud Selig to approve a sale to another party to become equal shareholders with Doubleday. However, in Sterling Partners ownership paperwork, they had the right of first refusal and so they exercised that position. Thus, Sterling Enterprises paid $80.75 Million to become equal partners with Doubleday. Then in 2002, after first a disagreement on whether to renovate Shea Stadium or to build a new stadium, and second a very famous disagreement on whether to trade for and then re-sign Mike Piazza, Doubleday had enough of the Wilpons and wanted to sell his half of the team. He and the Wilpons couldn’t agree on a valuation, so the matter went to MLB to mediate. In the valuation brought forth by The Wilpons, the Mets were worth $391 Million, but Doubleday disputed that figure. Selig gave his blessing to Wilpons, so MLB sided with Fred Wilpon and Doubleday had to accept the amount. [Late in September 2011, with the the Wilpons unable to make payroll following their obligations in the Bernie Madoff ponzie scheme fall-out, Selig gave the Wilpons a $25 Million loan from the MLB coffers without getting owners approval. This, while another franchise, the Los Angeles Dodgers, were denied assistance and Frank McCourt was forced to sell ownership of the team.] Even now with the Cohen purchase, the Wilpons value the franchise at $2.6 Billion while Forbes values it at $2.1 Billion. The price will certainly depend on the urgency of the Wilpons to sell and the motivation of Cohen to buy. Cohen tried to buy the Dodgers in 2012 but was outbid by the Guggenheim Partners. Undoubtedly, Magic Johnson’s involvement with Guggenheim had to be a strong vote in the favor of Guggenheim.

Mike Puma’s article on December 4, 2019 writes regarding the sale: “this should bother the Yankees because he will be playing in their league”. Mets fans, rejoice! Further, Puma’s article has sources speaking of Cohen’s love for the Mets and his ability to spend to win, but there aren’t any names and people like Cohen didn’t get to where they are by being stupid and just spending money. Certainly there will be a game plan, and we can all respect that, but what every Mets fan has wanted since 2009 is to be respected; to root for a big fish that will swim among the other big fish. No more going after Jason Bay when Matt Holliday was the play. No more dumpster diving. To no more shopping in the fruit and nuts section of the supermarket rather than the chicken and beef aisle. This was already started with Broadie Van Wagenen, but Cohen would not include a Jarred Kelenic in order to unload Jay Bruce and Anthony Swarzak.

We now may be seeing the true reason Van Wagenen was brought in over Chaim Bloom. It was to create a stir in the fan base and get ticket sales up in order to give a more favorable view to the franchise. Seems the Mets have been shopped quietly for over a year, but have looked for someone to allow them to keep operational control of the team. Hard to understand what the Wilpons are looking for other than keeping the prestige of the limelight. Cohen has given that his blessing, but when you are the owner, the GM will do what you tell him. If the Mets want a free agent, Cohen makes the call. If the Mets need to slash payroll, Cohen will make that call. Puma writes that Cohen runs his hedge fund with a great value on analytics and technology, so expect the same with the Mets.

Takeaways
1. The Mets are to be sold and majority stakehold will be transferred to Steve Cohen, a hedge fund manager from Queens and a die-hard Mets fan.
2. As part of the agreement, Jeff Willpon will remain COO and Fred Wilpon will remain CEO for the next five years.
3. Merry Christmas Mets fans!!!

22 comments on “Mets fans rejoice: Our prayers have been answered!!

  • TJ

    Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. But, think of him more in terms of a balding, spectacled, middle-aged guy in a suit and tie, not the jolly white-bearded guy in the red suit.

    We’ll keep the champagne on ice until the i’s are dotted and all the papers are signed.

  • Michael Young

    Excellent article! Mr. Cohen appears to be the future answer to all Mets fans prayers. However, as a Mets fan since 1962, (except for a brief period following the Seaver trade) I am now 71 years of age. For me, 5 years is still too ling to wait. I have had enough of Fred, Saul and Jeff. Why 5 more years? Obviously, I am not going to receive a satisfactory response to that still prevailing question. Hopefully, I will live long enough to see my Mets “Swim with the ‘big fish!'” In the meantime, how much longer is Brodie going to sit on his hands to truly make the Mets a “win now” team while the Braves, Phillies and Nats are making their moves to ensure that the Mets finish 4th in the NL East in 2020. Managers and coaches are important but filling the roster with talented players who can get the job done costs money and the Wilpons would apparently rather mortgage the future by trading minor league talent away for super star has beens. Patience – Patience and more patience. LFGM! Please excuse my rant and thanks for listening.

    • Chris B

      Michael I would wager that the 5 year stint is a facade/power trip by Wilpon. Word on the street is that Cohen’s influence will be immediate.

      • TexasGusCC

        For real Chris. Who pays $2.6 Billion to wait five years? We all know that even tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone.

        Michael, I don’t think Cohen will be as knee jerk as some other guy was upon being given the keys to a new toy and immediately traded away his top prospect to acquire one of his former clients, but by next year we may have a new GM but certainly a new vision.

      • Mike Walczak

        I hope Cohen’s influence is immediate in a good way. Lets hope that this move minimizes the influence of Ollie and Stanley and brings in Ax from Axe Capital.

        https://nypost.com/2019/12/04/the-mets-next-owner-inspired-damian-lewis-character-in-billions/

  • Chris B

    From Twitter.

    Here’s what consensus speculation is:

    – Cohen immediately gets 51%
    – increase to 80% in 5 years
    – Wilpons stay on for 5 years (true influence unknown)
    – antitrust clearance about 15 days
    – mlb approval timing unknown
    – Cohen already vetted by MLB
    – Wilpons keep sny stake

    I guess this means BVW is out?!

    • TexasGusCC

      Chris, owner’s meeting are this week. All Cohen and Sterling Enterprises have to do is finalize the paperwork. BVW is an employee, and will be at the whim of his boss(es). It’s been understood that the Mets get almost nothing from SNY; that’s what makes SNY so profitable. Hard to expect that to continue when the Dodgers are working with an $8.35 Billion tv package.

  • Chris F

    Nicely crafted Gus.

    My personal belief is that it is way too early to envision a new sheriff in town. Nothing has been done or signed. I dont expect any footprint this year in any circumstance (hope I wrong).

    We just signed Jake Marisnic to play CF. He of the career 79 OPS+ variety. He’s amassed 10.5 bWAR in 7 seasons, you do the math. BVW just lauded his defense, which at clocked in at 0.8 (below replacement level) bbref dWAR, but at least in positive territory in DRS (+5) for 2019. Not a 2.6 B$ splash just yet.

    Wheeler signed with the Phillies for 5/118.

    • TexasGusCC

      Chris, thank you for the compliment. They didn’t sign him but rather they traded for Marisnick. Gave up Blake Taylor from the Ike Davis trade and a minor leaguer that I don’t even think Dave Groveman has heard of, named Kenedy Corona. Marisnick is a depth piece all the way, expect Nimmo to be the man in the middle (of the outfield).

      • Mike W

        I think Marisnick is a good pickup, especially with the rosters being expanded to 26.

        Hope they aren’t looking for lightning in a bottle and play him as the primary center fielder. You never know with BVW.

        Be interesting to see what happens to BVW with Cohen.

  • TJ

    Marisnick is a decent pick up based on the need and fit – A RH hitting 4th OF that can provide premium D in CF. He certainly has his limitations…his offensive line looks an awful lot like Mr. Lagares, so he needs to be deployed appropriately. The cost looks to be minimal. Taylor is interesting an has some upside, but I can’t complain every time they part with a prospect. From what I saw neither was on their top 30 list. Marte is a better player but the cost to acquire him would likely have been painful. I think the Mets are best served trading controllable MLBers and/or prospects for quality controllable arms, not a CF, so in that light the move is underwhelming but makes sense.

  • your favorite mathematician

    New owner with billions in monopoly money? weeeeeee!

    So, I want Santa Cohen to bring us one Cole and one Strasburg.

    We lost Wheeler? Oh well, but I bet that $24M per for 5 yrs likely won’t work out. Besides, we already have an anchor/Cano for the same $

    Note: I couldn’t use my regular screen name because I don’t have access to key caps from this interface

    • Mike W

      And the Phillies are now paying $ 54 million a year for two players for the next five years, Wheeler and Harper.

      I bet it won’t work out either. I’ll take Strasburg and Rendon. Would love to have two of the best Nats players.

  • NYM6986

    There have been so many calls over the years for the Mets ownership to sell. So it only seems like a cruel joke that they are getting ready to sell the team to a minority owner who will not be taking control of operations for five years. It is not like their stellar operation of the organization makes them so important that they would need five-year consulting contracts, which appears that this is what they are doing. I would suggest they simply pay them a sum of money to go on vacation and let new ownership take over. It remains to be seen whether Mr. Cohen will start infusing money into this year‘s payroll. We can only hope.

  • TexasGusCC

    From Connor Byrne tonight on MLBTR:

    “There may be huge changes on the horizon for the Mets, as minority owner Steve Cohen is reportedly in talks to become the franchise’s control person by 2025. That could be good news for Mets fans, many of whom have been fed up with current majority owners Fred Wilpon and Jeff Wilpon for years. David Waldstein, Kevin Draper and James Wagner of the New York Times just profiled the Wilpons, and if you’re a Mets fan who reads that, you’ll probably grow even happier that the team could change hands in the next several years. As part of a piece that seems to list one damning Wilpon tidbit after another, Waldstein, Draper and Wagner note that the Mets have lost $60MM-plus in each of the past two seasons. That helps put them “at the limit of debt allowed by Major League Baseball rules,” they write. It’s unclear what that will mean as far as making changes to the roster this offseason goes, but as MLBTR’s Jeff Todd explained back in October, there doesn’t appear to be much spending room.“

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/06/sports/mets-wilpons-sale-cohen.html

    • Brian Joura

      I read the article before you posted the link and my immediate reaction is that I’d love to see the financial hoops you have to jump through to come up with the Mets losing that much money the past two years

      The current Fox TV deal pays MLB 4.2 billion for 8 years. That’s $525 million per year. Divide that by 30 and that’s $175 million per year, per team, which was more than the Mets’ OD payroll last year. And while they may not get 1/30 of that particular pie, they’re also getting money from the ESPN deal. And their local TV and radio rights. Plus whatever they get from MLBAM. And whatever they get from merchandise. And whatever they get from tickets. And whatever they get from concessions and parking. And whatever they get from naming rights. They have more expenses than just payroll. Certainly their debt payments cut into their profits. But I have a tough time believing that all of the income and expenses add up to $60 million per year loss.

      • TexasGusCC

        The TV money per team is $17.5MM. CBS Radio gives $11MM. SNY gives them $60MM. Citibank pays $20MM. I don’t know the rest.

        What we don’t know is the COO’s salary and the CEO’s salary. I, too, find it laughable that Cohen will pay $2.6B for the honor to lose $60MM per year. Plus insurance money gave them over $40MM back, and I’m betting that if they weren’t expecting the insurance money, they aren’t making the Cano trade.

        • Brian Joura

          There’s no way the TV money per team is that low. None.

          From Forbes – “MLB’s central revenue (mainly national television money that is shared equally) was $2.76 billion in 2018”

          https://www.forbes.com/sites/mikeozanian/2019/04/10/baseball-team-values-2019-yankees-lead-league-at-46-billion/#1bfd7aaf69b2

          • TexasGusCC

            Brian, I didn’t do any searching, I merely moved the decimal on your information. You said: “ The current Fox TV deal pays MLB 4.2 billion for 8 years. That’s $525 million per year. Divide that by 30 and that’s $175 million per year, per team“.

            You forgot to move the decimal point and I did, that’s all. I noticed it right away because I do it all the time, LOL!

            • Brian Joura

              But Fox isn’t the only national rights deal

  • Chris F

    Here is a super interesting story from the NYT today about the sale of the Mets and the Wilpon family. Very much worth the read.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/06/sports/mets-wilpons-sale-cohen.html

    • Steve S.

      Great article, Chris! Sheesh, it has been even worse than I previously thought!

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