Blog Entry

Einhorn will not be Mets minority owner

Posted on: September 1, 2011 11:57 am
Edited on: September 1, 2011 12:05 pm
David Einhorn was supposed to be the answer for what ailed the Mets financially.

He agreed to be a minority partner with the owning Wilpon family, and was ready to contribute money up front to potentially get them through their Madoff crisis. He had a path to full ownership, if the Wilpons became too damaged by the Madoff mess to continue. He was a Mets fan, who once played baseball in Bud Selig's yard.

And as recently as July, Selig brought up the sale of a minority share to Einhorn as one reason that the Mets were so much better off than the McCourt Dodgers.

That all seemed true, until the Mets and Einhorn announced Thursday morning that their talks were off. There is no agreement. He will not be the minority owner of the Mets, and there is no path for him to become full owner.

In a statement and later on a conference call, Einhorn blamed the Mets for trying to change the terms of the deal late last week.

He called it a "sad outcome."

The Mets, in their statement, simply said that they have decided not to negotiate any more with Einhorn, and that they would "explore other options."

So what does this all mean for the future of the Wilpons and the future of the Mets?

That's hard to say just yet, and it almost certainly depends in large part on the outcome of Madoff trustee Irving Picard's lawsuit, which seeks huge amounts of money from the Wilpons.

There is some thought that because the court case seems to be going better for the Wilpons, they're not as desperate for Einhorn's cash. In their statement, the Mets said that ownership has come up with more money to cover the team's 2011 losses, and is "moving forward with the necessary resources to continue to operate the franchise."

Does that mean the Wilpons now think they have enough cash to keep from slashing the Mets' payroll (which is expected to go down some, in any case)? Does that mean the Wilpons have enough cash to make a legitimate offer to pending free agent Jose Reyes?

We may not know the answers to those questions for a few months.

What we know now is that the deal that was announced with so much fanfare in May is now off.

Einhorn said further negotiations with the Wilpons would be "pointless."

He also said that some reports of the agreement, including the one that said that in some circumstances he could buy the rest of the team for $1, were inaccurate.

Einhorn did not detail the changes the Mets asked for last week. He did give one example, saying that he had asked for baseball to approve him as a potential full owner, and that the Mets lobbied MLB to make that impossible.

If the Wilpons get out of the Madoff case relatively unscathed, it's possible that the breakdown of the Einhorn talks won't damage the Mets. Or maybe the Wilpons will be able to find someone else who wants to invest with them.

As of now, though, it's hard to see how this is good news for the Mets.
Category: MLB

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