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.

Rays acquire Wilmer Font from Athletics

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In a less-notable move on Friday, the Rays acquired right-hander Wilmer Font from the Athletics in exchange for minor league right-hander Peter Bayer. Font was designated for assignment by the A’s on Wednesday.

This is the second trade involving the righty since the start of the season. The Athletics acquired 28-year-old Font from the Dodgers in late April, but were underwhelmed by his performance after he racked up 11 runs, five home runs, four walks and nine strikeouts in his first 6 2/3 innings of relief. While the rookie has yet to prove himself at the big league level, he posted a much more respectable pitching line with the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate in 2017, going 10-8 in 25 starts with a 3.42 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 11.9 SO/9 in 134 1/3 innings. It’s still unclear whether the Rays intend to give him another opportunity in the majors this year or use him as depth in the minors.

Bayer, 24, is still a ways away from cracking any major league roster. He advanced to High-A Charlotte prior to the trade and allowed eight runs, two homers, six walks and six strikeouts in his first four innings.