The drama over future ownership of the New York Mets continues, with billionaire hedge fund manager Steve Cohen withdrawing his ownership bid–and Alex Rodriguez reportedly considering a purchase of the team from the Wilpon family.
Cohen withdrew his $2.6 billion offer for the Mets after examining the specifics–namely, that he’d own 80 percent of the franchise but the Wilpons would retain control of the National League franchise. In fact, the Wilpons would basically give up little with the Cohen investment: CEO Fred Wilpon would remain as control person for the franchise for five years (MLB designates a single control person to speak for the team in MLB business matters), with Jeff Wilpon remaining as team COO for five years. But the ownership roles for the Wilpons could have extended for more than five years, and although the deal did not include ownership of cable network SNY, it may be more complicated than anticipated to split SNY from the Mets.
So in steps Rodriguez, a long-time Mets fan who has been an active businessperson and investor since his playing days ended. It’s not every day an MLB team hits the market, and bringing in someone of Rodriguez’s stature certainly would be welcomed in a sport that’s seen plenty of recent adversity. From the New York Post:
While sources told The Post that Cohen has not yet fully given up on his chances of purchasing the Mets, rumors of A-Rod’s interest have intensified.
“He’s a businessman and a baseball man based in New York,” said one A-Rod ally. “Why wouldn’t he be looking at this?”
A self-described childhood Mets fan who idolized Keith Hernandez in his youth, A-Rod flirted with signing with the team as a free agent in 2000. That dream was scuttled by then-Mets GM Steve Phillips’ disinterest in meeting A-Rod’s contract demands and creating what Phillips infamously termed “a 24-plus-one roster.” A-Rod eventually signed an unprecedented $252 million, 10-year deal with the Texas Rangers. He was traded to the Yankees following the 2003 season.
There’s one big problem with any Rodriguez bid for the Mets: while he’s a wealthy man, he’s not a baseball-wealthy man, so he’d need to take an approach like Derek Jeter did in his purchase of the Miami Marlins: put together an ownership group with bigger-buck investors. In general, MLB officials dislike ownership groups with multiple members–but then again, with the chance to bring in Alex Rodriguez and his wife, Jennifer Lopez, as owners, MLB may approve such an ownership group.
In the end, it will depend on how the rest of the world values the Mets sans SNY and how involvement the Wilpons demand. It’s highly unlikely any other potential owner would spend billions on a team and then leave the Wilpons on charge; it’s also unlikely anyone else would value the team at $3-billion-plus, as the Wilpons are, without any SNY share.
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