Steve Cohen Expected To Usher In New Era Of Mets Spending
The reported sale of the Mets from the Wilpon family to investor Steve Cohen would represent a "seismic shift in the baseball landscape," according to Jared Diamond of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Cohen's arrival has "conjured visions of an immediate new era for the Mets, one with a surging payroll and elite free agents" landing in Queens. It is "still unclear when or how much the Mets will benefit from Cohen's influence during the Wilpons' wind-down period." But "even if it takes the full five years, there's reason to believe that Cohen will ultimately run the Mets like the big-market franchise they are" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/6). ESPN.com's Buster Olney wrote, "For the first time in the past 45 years, we could see the full potential of New York's National League franchise." Olney: "There will be more money. Probably a lot more money." Consider what has happened to the Dodgers following the "disastrous ownership of Frank McCourt." That team was "sold to the Guggenheim partners" in the spring of '12, and since '13 the Dodgers have "made the playoffs seven straight years." Olney: "This is what could happen with Cohen" (ESPN.com, 12/5).
CART BEFORE THE HORSE? In N.Y., Bradford William Davis writes, "The thought of the Wilpon family loosening their grip on the Mets is understandably tempting. But replacing one rich guy with another, even if his net worth would make him the richest in all of baseball, doesn't guarantee positive change." The "best outcome for the Mets is that Cohen fashions his team like a modernized version of the old school apex-predator Yankees." He would also need to find the "right consigliere to run operations." The Mets under Cohen could "follow this decade's Dodgers," who "reduced payroll three consecutive seasons" since '15. Despite a "slight uptick," '19's opening day payroll was still nearly $100M "below their high-water mark" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/6). MLB Network's Chris Russo: "Are they going to spend a fortune on players and have a payroll that is where the Yankees and the Dodgers and the Red Sox and the Cubs are, or are they going to sit back and gradually get to that figure in five years?" ("High Heat," MLB Network, 12/5).
MONEY TALKS: In N.Y., Joel Sherman writes Mets fans have "long pined for a deep-pocketed replacement for the Wilpons." They "should gain satisfaction because those who know Cohen expect him to invest heavily to upgrade the on-field product." Cohen at his Point72 Asset Management hedge fund has "built up his analytic department" in a similar way to the Dodgers and Yankees. He is an "information junkie when it comes to making a decision whether to invest in a company and at what level." The expectation is Cohen will "do the same with the Mets -- use his wallet not just to bolster the major league roster, but to modernize the whole operation" (N.Y. POST, 12/6). In DC, Des Bieler notes Mets fans "can start to dream about Cohen turning a mom-and-pop operation into something more along the lines of shock and awe" (WASHINGTON POST, 12/6). In N.Y., Ken Davidoff writes, "Only Steve Cohen can say with certainty how quickly and aggressively he'll infuse his riches." But he already "understands the simple notion, one the Wilpons insufficiently embraced, that one must spend money to make it" (N.Y. POST, 12/6). Audience Network’s Rich Eisen said the Yankees spend “money like it’s going out of style” and the Mets are “in New York City too, (so) you should be spending money like it’s going of style also.” Eisen: “Maybe this evens things out” (“The Rich Eisen Show,” Audience Network, 12/5).
FRONT OFFICE SHAKEUP? In N.Y., Mike Puma writes there will be "clear winners and losers" in the Mets-Cohen deal, and the "biggest loser" might be Exec VP & GM Brodie Van Wagenen. Sources said that they "fully expect" Cohen to at some point "flex his muscle in baseball decisions." He may not see Van Wagenen "as the right choice to spend that money." Van Wagenen ahead of the '19 season arrived on a four-year contract worth $10M, "providing some level of security with the Wilpons." But that "could change with Cohen's involvement." A "key component in the front-office dynamic is special assistant Omar Minaya," who has "spent the last year advising the GM and potentially could serve as Van Wagenen's lifeline under new ownership." Another source said that former Mets manager Bobby Valentine, a "close friend" of Cohen, could serve "as an adviser of sorts for the prospective new owner" (N.Y. POST, 12/6). The Bergen RECORD's Justin Toscano looks at five questions surrounding the Wilpon-Cohen deal (12/6).