Mets owners out $83 million pre-Madoff trial

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The trial hasn’t even started yet, but Mets owner Fred Wilpon is already going to have to shell out as much as $83.3 million to the trustee recovering funds from the losers in Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.

That was the ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Jed S. Rakoff on Monday. The two sides will go to trial on March 19 over the additional $303 million that trustee Irving Picard is seeking. For Picard to extract that much from Wilpon’s wallet, he’ll need to prove to a jury that the defendants were “willfully blind” to the fraud.

Rakoff had previously ruled that Picard couldn’t sue the Wilpons for the full $1 billion he wanted, lowering that amount instead to the $386 million they were said to profit in the two years preceding Madoff’s arrest. Today’s $83.3 million comes out of that.

It’s unclear if the Wilpons have $83.3 million to give away at this time. They have been trying to sell minority shares of the Mets, with mixed reports of their success in the endeavor. If the trial goes poorly later this month, it figures to be difficult for them to keep the team.

Fried, Braves go to salary arbitration for 2nd straight year

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Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Pitcher Max Fried went to salary arbitration with the Atlanta Braves for the second straight year, asking for $15 million instead of the team’s $13.5 million offer.

The 29-year-old left-hander went 14-7 for the second straight season and lowered his ERA to 2.48 from 3.04 in 2021. Fried was a first-time All-Star last season, was second to Miami’s Sandy Alcantara in Cy Young Award voting and was third in the National League in ERA behind Alcantara and Julio Urias with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Fried won a $6.85 million salary last year instead of the team’s $6.6 million proposal in arbitration. That was after he pitched six shutout innings in World Series Game 6 as the Braves won their first title since 1995.

Fried, who is eligible for free agency after the 2024 World Series, had his case heard Friday by a panel that’s expected to issue a decision Saturday.

Players have won two of three decisions so far: Pitcher Jesus Luzardo ($2.45 million) and AL batting champion Luis Arraez ($6.1 million) both beat the Miami Marlins. But Seattle defeated Diego Castillo ($2.95 million).

A decision is being held for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe, whose case was argued Monday. About 20 more cases are scheduled through Feb. 17.