The Wilpons’ financial crunch, brought on by being taken in a Ponzi scheme by their friend Bernie Madoff, almost cost them the team a couple of years ago. It did cause them to take loans with restrictive terms, both from banks and from Major League Baseball. That in turn pushed payroll way below that which a team in a market like New York should be. It’s been something of a depressing slog, frankly.
But now, according to the New York Post, there’s some reason to hope of a financial thaw. It comes in the form of a new $250 million loan which will refinance an existing loan that had a massive principal payment looming early this year. The interest payments will remain about where they were before but (a) no principal payment will be due for seven years; and (b) payroll restrictions built in to the current loan will be gone.
This doesn’t mean that the Mets will suddenly sport $150 million payrolls, but it does give the team breathing room to add players who actually make some money at some point.
Of course, it also means that the Wilpons will not be forced to sell the team due to a cash crunch, paving the way for the Mets’ own version of Magic Johnson to swoop in and make a broke franchise immediately flush. And I know many Mets fans who really, really wish that would have happened.
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.
Comments from an anonymous team official suggest that Rangers right-hander Tyson Ross will not be expected to join the rotation until May or June, per a report from Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Both Ross and GM Jon Daniels favor a conservative approach for the 29-year-old as he works his way back up to full health after undergoing surgery last October to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome.
The delay is reportedly being implemented so that Ross will be have the strength and stamina to contribute during the stretch run. Per Daniels:
We would rather err on a little extra time up front with the goal being to finish strong, pitching in big spots, meaningful games down the stretch and hopefully past 162.
Ross signed a one-year deal with the team on Thursday after pitching through an injury-riddled season with the Padres in 2016. If all goes according to plan, he’ll slot into a rotation that includes Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Andrew Cashner and Martin Perez. The Rangers are expected to narrow down their fifth starter alternatives in spring training.