The Athletic’s Daniel Kaplan reports that Fred and Jeff Wilpon are still interested in trying to find buyers for the Mets.
Kaplan says that Allen & Co., a firm retained by the Wilpons in an advisory role, has been making calls to get a picture of the potential market. That’s surprising given the recent bodyblows taken by the stock market, brought on by daily life grinding to a near halt to try to combat the spread of coronavirus. The uber-wealthy potential buyers have all lost money in the past weeks, which would surely drive down the scope of the offers the Wilpons might receive.
The Mets were nearly sold in February to Steve Cohen for $2.6 billion before the deal fell apart over disagreements about how long the Wilpons would retain decision-making powers over the franchise. Under the original terms of the deal, Jeff Wilpon would remain the franchise’s control person for five years before power shifted to Cohen. The two sides came to an impasse over the arrangement.
The Wilpons and Cohen engaged in some mud-slinging in the press and it’s unclear whether the relationship between the two camps degraded to the point that Cohen would be interested in trying to re-start the transaction at a lower price. The Mets would reportedly immediately shift control to any new owner after the way the Cohen negotiations failed.
The economic downturn could also mean that the team could sell for a lower price than Cohen’s $2.6 billion. Yet baseball (and all professional sports) are in an unprecedented limbo right now, and the uncertainty over if and when play will resume this year could make the purchase of a team an unattractive proposition. MLB and the MLBPA reached a deal today that could ease some of that anxiety, but the obstacle of the pandemic itself remains.
While report notes that the Wilpons claim that they don’t need to sell the team, having Allen & Co. continue to solicit buyers is an awfully curious move that hints at something akin to desperation. Of course, given that this is Fred and Jeff Wilpon we’re talking about here, it could also just be good old-fashioned Metsy dumbness. Trying to sell the team now feels like trying to sell swimsuits on Amity Island after the shark attacks.
It would be surprising if the Mets are in fact sold before the end of the pandemic, and even before the economy begins to recover in the ensuing re-emergence of normal life for that matter. But hey, it’s the Mets. Ridiculous things happen with this team.