Earlier today, New York Mets fans were on the receiving end of some bad news when free agent Zack Wheeler confirmed he wouldn’t be back in the Big Apple for 2020. Worse, he signed with a division rival, the Philadelphia Phillies. However, Mets fans were soon welcomed by some news that many in the team’s fanbase will find quite delightful. As first reported by Bloomberg’s Scott Soshnick, Mets principal owner, Fred Wilpon, and his son and team COO, Jeff Wilpon, are working to sell a large majority share of the team to investor, Steve Cohen.
The deal, which could be finalized soon, would see Cohen land up to 80 percent ownership in the franchise. Cohen already owns a minority share in the team. The transaction would value the franchise at $2.6 billion, a baseball record. With that in mind, purchasing an 80 percent stake would bring the total damage to roughly $2.08 billion.
Although the move could be finalized soon, it could take a while for Cohen to fully take over the reins. According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Fred Wilpon would remain the control person and CEO for the next five years. Further, Jeff Wilpon would remain COO for five years, as well. This would mean Cohen wouldn’t take over full control until late in 2024, just a few months prior to the 2025 baseball season.
BREAKING: The Sterling Partners and Steve Cohen are negotiating an agreement in which Cohen would increase his investment in the #Mets, per source. Fred Wilpon will remain Control Person and CEO for five years and Jeff Wilpon will remain COO for five-year period as well.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 4, 2019
The team confirmed the news in a statement, essentially echoing the Bloomberg report. The team’s official comments read, “The Sterling Partners and Steve Cohen are negotiating an agreement in which Cohen would increase his investment in the Mets. As part of that agreement, Fred Wilpon will remain Control Person/CEO for 5 years and Jeff Wilpon will remain COO for the 5 years as well.”
Cohen is valued at about $9.2 billion. Even after taking over with the Mets, he would remain the chief executive officer of Point72 Asset Management, the hedge fund company he founded.
According to the Bloomberg report, the Wilpons will still own some of the franchise — a stake worth $391 million, to be exact. With the previously-stated valuations, a $391 million payment would yield a 15 percent ownership share.
As mentioned, this news pleases many Mets fans who have been unhappy with the direction of the franchise. From a talent and financial standpoint, the most recent of many examples displaying the Wilpons’ questionable ownership moves and decision-making saw them refuse to bring back the aforementioned Wheeler despite the availability of resources to sign him long-term.
Cohen’s Wikipedia page has already been updated in an unsurprising fashion.
While this move is not yet final, it is a step in the right direction amidst negotiations that seem to be in the final stages already. We’ll keep you covered as the transition of ownership from Wilpon to Cohen progresses.