Forgive me if I’m not optimistic about the Wilpons’ chances of finding “strategic partners” who will gladly fork over millions in exchange for a minority share of the team, leaving the Wilpons in control. Why am I skeptical? Because the last time a baseball owner was in deep financial trouble and sought minority investors, it didn’t quite turn out the way he planned:
“I’ve been quietly looking for minority investors to come back into the ownership of the Rangers as a way to be prudent in a bad economy,” [Tom] Hicks said. “I’m doing the same thing with the Stars. At the end of the day, I’ll still have 51-to-60 percent of the ballclub and have new partners. That doesn’t change anything.
A little less than a year later Tom Hicks was being squeezed out completely while Mark Cuban and Chuck Greenberg fought tooth-and-nail for total control of the Texas Rangers.
It’s just a simple fact of investment life: minority shares in non-public entities are not worth anything close to what a controlling interest is worth. Perhaps the Mets, who likely have a much better potential cashflow than most teams, will still be an attractive investment who is merely interested in saying they own a piece of the team. But if the Rangers example is any indication, there aren’t a whole hell of a lot of people who want to be silent partners when the majority owner asking for a handout is in financial distress.
The Mets are an extremely valuable property. Their owners are in financial trouble. This is what most savvy investors call “an opportunity.” It strains credulity to think that people won’t make some offers for control of the Mets that the Wilpons find awfully hard to refuse.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.