Billionaire hedge fund manager, Steve Cohen reached an agreement to purchase the New York Mets from the Wilpon and Katz family on Monday. The two parties had reached a verbal agreement earlier this year over the sale of the Mets, only to see Cohen back out of the deal after the Wilpon's unwillingness to play fair. It seemed as if the deal was off, and that Mets fans would be stuck with the Wilpon's for the unforeseeable future. However, just a few weeks later, Fred and Jeff Wilpon made a public statement that they were actively seeking to sell the team by seasons end, even if it meant selling to someone who wasn't going to offer nearly as much as Cohen's original bid. Other interested parties that emerged as potential buyers were:
- Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez
- Josh Harris and David Blitzer - who own both the New Jersey Devils of the NHL and the Philadelphia 76ers of NBA
- David and Simon Reuben, British business tycoons who recently purchased property around Manhattan's Rockefeller Center. They are actively seeking to grow their enterprise in the New York City area, and explored the idea of buying up real estate around Citi Field. This probably would have been worst case scenario, since it seemed that the Reuben brothers were more interested in turning Citi Field into a glorified billboard for their business ventures, rather than running a serious sports franchise.
But much to our delight, the Wilpon family accepted Steve Cohen's bid of $2.475 billion, the highest price ever paid for a North American sports franchise.
Steve Cohen - A Known Mets Fan with Deep Pockets.
Since George Steinbrenner bought the New York Yankees back in 1973, the two things the Yankees franchise has been notorious for is winning, and not being afraid to SPEND in order to WIN. This was in large part due to George Steinbrenner's willingness to throw his money at the best players the game had to offer, and more often than not, it worked out for him. Being only 15 minutes south-east of Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, Mets fans wondered, "if they can do it, why can't we?"
Mets fans have been longing for this type of treatment ever since. All we have ever wanted is an owner who cares for us, an owner who wants to be apart of something bigger, an owner who is one of us. For the longest time, we have been the neglected middle-child of New York baseball, because of our owners. New York City is the largest sports market in the country. The most wealthy teams in America belong to New York City. Even the Knicks who haven't won a championship since 1973 are the third most valuable sports franchise in the whole world at $4.6 billion according to Forbes' list of the world's most valuable sports teams. (Yankees at #2, $5 billion, Giants at #9, $3.9 billion, Jets at #17, $3.2 billion, Nets at #38, $2.5 billion, Mets at #41, $2.4 billion. Rangers, Islanders N/A)
Mets fans' expectations are high with Mr. Cohen. He is an admitted Mets fan, who has been public with his desire to spend big money on big names if he is awarded the team. Cohen's bid has already been accepted, all he needs now is 23 out of 30 other MLB franchise owners to approve his purchase, and he will officially be the majority owner of the New York Mets.
Free Agents Cohen Could Pursue, Moves he Needs to Make.
If in fact Steve Cohen takes control of the Mets in time for the offseason, Mets fans are going to expect him to makes moves immediately. If he doesn't, he risks losing the love and trust of all of us. After such big talk about how much he plans to spend, he needs to flex his financial muscles, put his money where his mouth is, and make a splash.
I am not an advocate of someone losing their job, but in the case of Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, he hasn't exactly proven he belongs in the role of GM. Awful trade after awful trade, awful free agent signing after awful free agent signing, it was clear from the get-go that Brodie wasn't going to transition well from player agent to general manager of a big league ball club. The Wilpon's have been notorious for their bold front-office hiring's and free agent signings that hardly ever pay off. Mets fan like myself always chalked it up to ownership being cheap and lazy, never wanting to pay the right person for the right job. And that's exactly the first thing that Cohen needs to address; his staff.
Start from the top and work your way down. Jed Lowrie, Brodie Van Wagenen, Edwin Diaz, Todd Frazier, and Luis Rojas - all of which were hired by/signed by/traded for by Brodie and the Wilpon's - all need their roles with the team reassessed. I would have added Robinson Cano to that list after his 2019 campaign, but he's been having a good 2020 season so maybe we'll revisit that argument next year.
There are plenty of free agents on the hot stove this offseason. The Mets already have the best pitcher in baseball with Jacob deGrom. Noah Syndergaard hopefully returns in 2021 after missing 2020 due to Tommy John surgery, Pete Alonso has slumped so far this year, but will look to get back on track in 2021, Jeff McNeil and Michael Conforto are already two of the best hitters in baseball, Dom Smith has recently emerged as a huge bat in the Mets lineup, and JD Davis has been solid in the two years he's spent in New York. In other words, the Mets already have the star power needed in order to contend for a World Series.
But like most die-hard sports fans know, having a good supporting cast is just as important as having stars when it comes to pursuing a championship of any kind. And unfortunately, aside from the names mentioned above, the Mets don't have much of a supporting cast. Cohen and the Mets will still be looking for a third, fourth, and fifth starter behind deGrom and Syndergaard, they need a starting catcher, a center fielder, and a shortstop if former top prospect Amed Rosario doesn't start picking it up soon. And don't even get me started on the biggest hole on the Mets team; their bullpen. Betances has been reliable out of the bullpen this year, but Familia and Diaz have been horrible. The Mets thin rotation has also forced them to bring their top reliever, Seth Lugo out of the bullpen and place him in the two spot behind deGrom.
Cohen needs to sign a few guys to shore up the roster, here are a few free agent names that could help the team next season:
J.T. Realmuto - Catcher - Philadelphia Phillies
Jackie Bradley Jr. - Center Fielder - Boston Red Sox
Justin Turner - Third Baseman/Designated Hitter - Los Angeles Dodgers
Marcus Semien - Shortstop - Oakland Athletics
Andrelton Simmons - Shortstop - Los Angeles Angels
Jonathan Villar - Shortstop - Toronto Blue Jays
Joc Pederson - Center Fielder - Los Angeles Dodgers
Trevor Bauer - Starting Pitcher - Cincinnati Reds
Marcus Stroman - Starting Pitcher - New York Mets
Alex Colome - Reliever - Chicago White Sox
Blake Treinen - Reliever - Los Angeles Dodgers
Now, obviously I am not saying that Steve Cohen is going to go out and sign every single one of these guys. It's impossible for any one team to do that. These are some premier names in baseball today, and every single one of these guys is going to command a hefty contract. But even just one or two of these guys would help out tremendously. You can bet your bottom dollar that you'll see other teams such as the Yankees, Dodgers, Nationals, Astros, Braves, Phillies, Angels and many other contenders in play for most of these guys.
Well, there it is. My evaluation of the New York Mets sale, and how new owner Steve Cohen can make an immediate impact on the team. Here is to hoping that Cohen gets his 23 votes, and that us Met fans can finally be rid of the Wilpon's, and are hopefully onto better days. I haven't felt this much buzz in Queens since the 2015 NL Championship team.
Follow me on Twitter - @NY_cth
Cheers, Mets fans! Hopefully we can celebrate soon.