SBD/October 1, 2013/Franchises

Mets Looking To Refinance $250M Debt, Eye Increasing Payroll Flexibility

Wilpon and Katz have reached out to banks, looking to postpone repaying principal
One of the "more important negotiations for the Mets this off-season will be their move to refinance roughly" $250M in bank debt, according to Josh Kosman of the N.Y. POST. But sources said that even if the franchise "hits a home run with its lenders and manages to pull off the deal without paying any principal, it won’t affect the budget for players’ salaries next season." However, a source said that "fruitful talks with the banks could see an increase in moneys allotted" for '15 salaries. Sources said that Mets co-Owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, "looking at a sizable principal payment this spring, have started reaching out to banks." Wilpon and Katz "want to postpone repaying principal while they continue to shore up finances after several years of steep losses, burdensome debt and a showdown with the trustee for the victims of Bernie Madoff." Sources said that the team owners "remain confident that with the value of the team rising, they will not need to pony up any cash during the refinancing." Sources said that the Mets are "expected to lose" more than $10M this year, after a $23M loss in '12 and the $70M lost in '11 (N.Y. POST, 10/1).

STEP RIGHT UP: In N.Y., Tim Rohan notes Mets GM Sandy Alderson yesterday "essentially announced that the Mets, now freed of a number of burdensome contracts, could spend again." Mets' brass in the coming days will determine the payroll for '14. The Mets for the first time since Alderson came on board in '10 "appear to have the ability to spend more than $2 million on this player and $3 million on that one." Alderson said that this year's payroll was about $87M, "not counting the deferred money owed" to free agent LF Jason Bay, and about $40M of that amount "is now coming off the books." Alderson said, "Certainly we'll have more payroll flexibility than we've had since I've been here" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/1). Alderson: "Having flexibility is great, but at some point you’ve got to put yourself on the line, and I think what we’re going to try to do is balance the level of our commitments with the desire to continue to maintain some flexibility going forward.” Mets COO Jeff Wilpon said that he is "happy with Alderson’s performance, but said no discussions have begun about picking up the GM’s option" for '15 (N.Y. POST, 10/1).
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