Fred Wilpon, Jeff Wilpon

The Wilpons could sell more than 25 percent of the team

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The New York Times reports today that the proposals fielded by the Wilpons in their efforts to find a “strategic partner” (read: cash infusion) suggest that most of the interested parties are interested in more than the 25 percent share of the Mets that the Wilpons want to sell.  This can be inferred by the fact that the man tasked with selling that share told the times “Let’s just say that a noncontrolling stake could be north of 25 percent.”  Many other bids, the Times reports, are only interested in majority stakes.

This is not surprising. As most observers, this observer included, said at the time of the Wilpons’ announcement that they were seeking an investor, being a minority shareholder in a closely-held corporation is rarely anything a person of means wants to be. There are few people less powerful than a 25 percent stakeholder in such a beast, and unless the cash flow is really impressive — which, at least for the time being may not be the case for the Mets — there is very little upside.

My guess is that if the Wilpons do hold on to a majority stake, their minority shareholder will be way closer to 51 percent than they originally hoped. And he or she may very well have options and opportunities to become the majority shareholder one day.  If not, the Wilpons will be dealing with a much smaller group of investors.

In other Wilpon news, the  Daily News reports that the late mother and brothers outgoing chief counsel of the Securities and Exchange Commission were Madoff investors themselves. And even better, now the brothers are subject to lawsuits by Irving Picard seeking their Ponzi scheme gains.  The News suggests — and I’m sure at least one commenter in this thread will agree — this helps the Wilpons in that, hey, if family members of the SEC were Wilpon investors and they could be duped, how should the Wilpons ever have known?

Another interpretation, however, is that if the family of the SEC’s top lawyer were invested with Madoff, it’s possible that the SEC was less-than-vigilant than it should have been in investigating him, and thus its failure to do so should not be viewed as a legitimate defense of the Wilpons. Sure, such a thing would be an insult to the SEC’s reputation if it had a stellar track record of investigating industries and institutions to which its employees owe allegiance for various reasons.  But that, sadly, is simply not the case.

The SEC has routinely, either because of incompetence or because of conflict of interest, failed to catch and punish those who should be caught and punished for investment misdeeds. And I’m sure that Picard will have witnesses explain that to any jury that sits in judgment of the Wilpons.

Phillies sign outfielder Michael Saunders

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 3: Michael Saunders #21 of the Toronto Blue Jays runs to first after being walked during the third inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on May 3, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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The Phillies have signed free agent outfielder Michael Saunders.

Saunders was an All-Star in 2016 due to his wonderful start, but he cratered in the second half of the season. Overall is numbers looked good — he hit 24 homers and posted a line of .253/.338/.478, but his second half line was .178/.282/.357 in 58 games. He’s not the best defender around either.

The Phillies could use him, however, and if he has another red hot first half, there’s a decent chance they could flip him if they wanted to.

Jose Bautista and the Blue Jays nearing a two-year, $35-40 million deal

Toronto Blue Jays Jose Bautista flips his bat after hitting a three-run homer during seventh inning game 5 American League Division Series baseball action in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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It was first reported that the Blue Jays and Jose Bautista were close to a deal last night. Now Ken Rosenthal reports that the deal is near completion. It will likely a two-year contract in the $35-40 million range.

Bautista had a tough 2016, hitting .234/.366/.452 with 22 home runs and 69 RBI, and some clubs likely considered a long-term deal for the 36-year-old too risky, this leading to the relative lack of reported interest in Bautista by other clubs. But back-to-back ALCS appearances by the Jays and the success and popularity Bautista has experienced in Toronto make his re-signing there a pretty sensible move for all involved.

The Jays, who already lost Edwin Encarnacion to free agency, get their slugger back on a short term deal. Unlike anyone else, they don’t have to give up the draft pick attached to him via the qualifying offer. Bautista, in turn, will make, on average, more than he would’ve made on the qualifying offer if he would’ve accepted it and a raise over the $14 million he made in 2016.