The New York Mets are $350 million in debt (Report)

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CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 21: (L-R) Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon, Chief Executive Officer Saul Katz and Owner Fred Wilpon of the New York Mets pose with the NLCS trophy after defeating the Chicago Cubs in game four of the 2015 MLB National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field on October 21, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The Mets defeated the Cubs with a score of 8 to 3 to sweep the Championship Series.

The Wilpons are in desperate need of a sale. The New York Mets’ bottom line is too far in the red for them to hold onto the team any longer. 

According to Mike Ozanian of Forbes, the New York Mets are $350 million in debt. That’s terrible news for everyone involved, except Steve Cohen.

The massive debt means that Fred Wilpon and Jeff Wilpon are going to be forced to sell the team. The Wilpon family is only worth a reported $500 million according to an earlier Forbes report.

They simply don’t have the capital to run the team anymore. That explains why they’ve been so hesitant to add payroll for a long time. They simply can’t afford to.

To be honest, this isn’t surprising. In 2011, the New York Times broke a story that the MLB paid the Mets $25 million in secret so they could afford payroll. By rule, when that happens, the MLB should’ve forced the Wilpons to sell. Nonetheless, they didn’t. A close relationship with former MLB commissioner Bud Selig saved them.

Now, Ozanian is reporting that Cohen could end up paying $1.5 billion and never have control of the team. He reports that in the current incarnation of talks, Cohen will have 75% control of the team immediately after the purchase. As a condition of the purchase, the Wilpons will stay controlling owners for another five years.

This is different from previous reports that said the Wilpons would simply maintain their respective titles for five years. It’s an important distinction too. Under MLB rules, Cohen wouldn’t need to swear in by the other owners if he isn’t the controlling owner. This means that the Wilpons would have five years to convince the other owners that Cohen doesn’t deserve to be the controlling owner.

That could lead to Cohen cutting a $1.5 billion check and never receiving control of the team. It seems unlikely now, but the Wilpons have always been sneaky businessmen. They tanked two other deals to sell the team in the past, according to Howard Megdal of Forbes.

Cohen may end up the majority owner bankrolling the team with no control. It’s unlikely a strong businessman like Cohen would risk his money in this way. That being said, this is a scenario that can’t be overlooked.

Mets fans could be stuck with the Wilpons for years to come, even if a sale does come to pass.

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