As Mets fans celebrate the overthrow of the Wilpons, there is a baseball season beginning in a few months. Sobering up, there will be fallout in 2020…
The Mets are in a state of flux that will continue for as long as five years, the end of which will see the Wilpons out and Steve Cohen 80% in as the majority owner of the team.
The five-year timeline is flexible and contingent on Cohen’s transfer of cash to the coiffeurs of the Wilpons. In theory, the $2.6 billion value placed on the Mets by Bloomberg can be eaten up and spit out by Cohen today, with personal wealth estimated to be $13.6 billion.
More likely, though, is that Cohen doesn’t have that kind of cash laying around, and time will be absorbed while he transitions properties to cash.
Here comes Santa Claus?
However, even with no money in the pot, Cohen will have some power over the Wilpons in that all-important (to Mets fans) category of this year’s payroll budget.
The more Cohen antes up; the more decision-making power is transferred over to him and away from the Wilpons. We can safely assume from where they now sit on their way out; the Wilpons would rather have a zero payroll if they could get away with it.
This brings us to a genuine problem the Mets have as the coming season gets closer and closer.
What, if any, directions will be given to Brodie Van Wagenen? Does, for instance, Steve Cohen plan to turn over $500 million tomorrow as a sign of good faith in the deal, and to expedite his desire as an avid Mets fan to see his team have the chance to win it all?
Or, does Van Wagenen limp into San Diego and the Winter Meetings this Sunday with no direction and therefore no money to spend?
Mets: Patience is still the better part of valor
Cohen has given every indication he is willing to spend – and spend big. Timing is everything, though, and the 2020 MLB free-agent sweepstakes are off and running without any noticeable activity by the Mets.
With a cash influx from Cohen now, everything changes, and the Mets are back in the game with the ability (assuming the desire) to bid on the Big Three (Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, and Anthony Rendon).
Of the three, the Mets have a better chance of landing Rendon, who is coming off a career year, and he would satisfy their need for a full-time third-baseman. What they would do with Jeff McNeil is another matter needing attention later.
If truth be told, I’d rather not see Brodie Van Wagenen with a pocketful of cash walking around the hotel lobby in San Diego.
Instead, for 2020, a better and wiser plan for the Mets is to proceed based on the old program – the Wilpon plan – with pennies to spend that puts the onus on Van Wagenen to use trades to strengthen the team – not free agents.
With Cohen on board, this is akin to winning the lottery and all the entrapments that come with sudden fortune.
You can see the light now…
Mets fans, I believe, can live one more year with what the team has – a team that is already pretty good and likely to challenge in the NL East seriously.
With a full year to plan, let the dust settle regarding the change in ownership and a new manager. Meanwhile, the Mets can get their ducks in a row for next year – all while Pete Alonso, McNeil, Michael Conforto, and Amed Rosario get another year of growth under their belt.
Patience has proven to be a virtue for Mets fans. The Wilpons are finally history, and a breath of fresh air is on the way in.
It feels funny to say it. Still, the Mets are better to be the conservative lottery winner who chooses investments wisely and cautiously, with the knowledge that million-dollar home will always be there tomorrow, as well as today…