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The Wilpons get a new loan that could lead to a higher Mets payroll . . . eventually

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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.

Twins’ minor league pitcher Landa dies in Venezuela

FORT MYERS, FL - MARCH 05:  Yorman Landa #81 of the Minnesota Twins makes a throw to first base during the fourth inning of a spring training game against the Baltimore Orioles at Hammond Stadium on March 5, 2016 in Fort Myers, Florida.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins say minor league pitcher Yorman Landa has died in Venezuela. He was 22.

The club said in a statement that the Twins are “deeply saddened by the heartbreaking loss.” The team did not say how he died.

Landa pitched in the 2016 season with the Fort Meyers Miracle, going 2-2 with 7 saves and a 3.24 ERA in 41 2/3 innings pitched. His career minor-league ERA was 2.66.

Landa had been on the Twins’ 40-man roster, but was dropped after the season. The organization signed him to a minor-league contract last week.

Landa was signed by the Twins in 2010 as a 16-year old from Santa Teresa, Venezuela.

Orioles are eying Welington Castillo as their primary catcher target

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 25: Welington Castillo #7 of the Arizona Diamondbacks warms up prior to taking an at bat against the Baltimore Orioles in the second inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 25, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
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A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.

Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.

For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.