Fred Wilpon showed up at spring training today and said that his financial problems are over:
“It’s all in the rear-view mirror… The family is in great shape. The family really is in great shape. Sometimes luck is the residue of design … There’s no one in my family — there’s the Katz family, the Wilpon family, kids — [that now] has any personal bank debt. Zero. Everything has been paid. We don’t owe a dollar to anybody … “That’s what made us tight. We were still getting revenues. Lots of revenues. But those revenues were going to pay off debt. That’s done.”
Wilpon said that starting next year that the payroll will go up and Sandy Alderson can chase free agents “if prudent.”
You’d like to believe Wilpon here if you’re a Mets fan. But this is also the guy who, when all of the Madoff stuff began, said that it wouldn’t impact the Mets or the on-the-field product. It certainly has.
So put up or shut up, Fred. That’s the only way you’re going to win back the Mets fans your ownership of the team has alienated.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.
Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.
As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.