How much financial trouble are the Wilpons in?

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The speculation surrounding today’s announcement that the Wilpons are looking to sell a stake in the Mets has included chatter about just how hard the government is going after them as a result of the Bernie Madoff mess.  The short version: the lawsuit filed against the Wilpons is to “claw back” money that Madoff gave to the Wilpons that, in reality, had been taken from investors farther down the pyramid.  And no, it doesn’t matter if the Wilpons knew it was stolen money (which they apparently did not).

Against that backdrop came this tweet from Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post:

One of my sources from #Mets beat told me gov’t seeking $1B(!) clawback from Wilpon/Katz. No way they can keep the team if that’s true.

Hubbuch’s numbers are corroborated by Ken Belson of the New York Times, who has considerably more background here.

Even if these numbers are not accurate, however, the key point is clear: the Wilpons’ current financial situation is going to be directly impacted by how much the government is seeking in its clawback lawsuit. If it’s anything close to figure Hubbuch is reporting, they will have to sell way more than a minority share in the Mets.  Indeed, they’ll likely have to sell the whole team.

*Note: In an earlier version of this post I had referred to Hubbuch as “an NFL writer.”  Which he currently is. I was unaware, however, that was previously on the Mets beat.  I’m told that he has been following the Madoff/Wilpon story closely and that his previous tweets about the situation have been accurate. Apologies to Hubbuch for my dubiousness.

Padres sign Jordan Lyles

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The Padres announced on Sunday that the club signed pitcher Jordan Lyles to a one-year major league contract with a club option for 2019. According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, Lyles will earn $750,000 in 2018. Pitcher Travis Wood was designated for assignment to create room on the 40-man roster for Lyles.

Lyles, 27, had miserable results between the Rockies and Padres last season, compiling an aggregate 7.75 ERA with a 55/22 K/BB ratio over 69 2/3 innings. While he specifically gave up 24 earned runs in 23 innings across five starts with the Padres, it was a small sample. A full season at the pitcher-friendly Petco Park, as opposed to Colorado’s Coors Field, might help revitalize his career.

Wood, 30, went to the Padres at the non-waiver trade deadline from the Royals this past season. Overall, the lefty posted an aggregate 6.80 ERA with a 65/45 K/BB ratio in 94 innings. He’ll earn $6.5 million this season and has an $8 million mutual option with a $1 million buyout for 2019. So, the Padres are just eating $7.5 million minus the league minimum, assuming Wood latches on elsewhere.