It’s not an absolutely huge surprise. Current New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon has been in negotiations with interested parties to purchase his Major League Baseball franchise for a while now.
Among those bandied about the most has been billionaire Steve Cohen, who founded the hedge fund Point72 Asset Management. Worth an estimated $14 billion, Cohen closed a deal to purchase the Mets from Wilpon’s group for between $2.4 and $2.45 billion on Monday.
“I am excited to have reached an agreement with the Wilpon and Katz families to purchase the New York Mets,” Cohen said in a statement, via the NY post.
First off, this means that a last-ditch effort from a group led by power couple Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez is no longer a viable option. Secondly, Cohen will have to receive approval from 23 MLB team owners come November before the purchase is finalized. That’s not a guarantee given a $1.8 million fine Cohen’s group had to pay out for insider trading.
If this is finalized, it will have wide-ranging ramifications around the Major League Baseball world.
Steve Cohen’s purchase of the Mets would represent a record in North American professional sports
It was back in 2018 that David Tepper purchased the NFL’s Carolina Panthers from disgraced owner Jerry Richardson for a total of $2.27 billion. That was a high-water mark for a professional sports team in North America. It also continues an upward trajectory.
- Brooklyn Nets ($2.35 billion): Technically, this would have been the highest price paid for a North American sports team. Though, Joseph Tsai originally purchased a 49% share of the Nets for $1 billion back in 2017. He paid another $1.35 billion in 2019 to purchase the remaining 51%.
- Carolina Panthers ($2.27 billion): This deal came together after then-owner Jerry Richardson was forced to sell the NFL franchise due to a multitude of institutional issues within the Panthers’ organization.
- Houston Rockets ($2.2 billion): Restaurant magnate Tilman Fertitta bought the NBA team from then-owner Leslie Alexander back in 2017. The Rockets are now said to be worth a cool $2.5 billion.
- Los Angeles Dodgers ($2.15 billion): A group led by NBA legend Magic Johnson purchased the Dodgers out of bankruptcy for a cool $2.15 billion back in 2012. The Dodgers are now valued at an estimated $3.4 billion.
The Dodgers’ sale should act as a guide for the Mets moving forward. Said sale will also play a rather large role in what owners do as it relates to approve Cohen’s bid. Simply put, an increase in team values improves their very own bottom lines.
Steve Cohen’s purchase of the Mets will be a boon for MLB owners
According to the most-recent Forbes estimates, the Mets are worth $2.4 billion. This means that the economic downturn that was brought on by the current COVID-19 pandemic did not have an impact on the sale price of the franchise.
It’s something that Wilpon and the Mets were concerned about before. This is also why he wanted to close a deal ahead of the end of the 2020 calendar year. It now doesn’t seem like there’s going to be any major decrease in team values around the Major League Baseball world despite the revenue downtick this season.
As for those who sit atop the hiearchy of baseball’s most valuable teams, this is only going to impact their bottom lines.
- New York Yankees: $5 billion
- Los Angeles Dodgers: $3.4 billion
- Boston Red Sox: $3.3 billion
- Chicago Cubs: $3.2 billion
- San Francisco Giants: $3.1 billion
We’re now going to see their franchise values increase based on this hotly-contested sale. Though, the impact will likely be felt by those on the other end of the spectrum.
- Tampa Bay Rays: $1.05 billion
- Cincinnati Reds: $1.08 billion
- Oakland Athletics: $1.1 billion
Remember, the Kansas City Royals just sold for about $1 billion back in 2019 while the Miami Marlins were sold to a group headed by Derek Jeter for $1.2 billion.
We already know that the Athletics and Rays are looking at the possibility of relocation. For the Tampa Bay, that includes splitting time between Florida and Montreal. The A’s have been bandied about as a possibility in Las Vegas, where their Triple-A team is housed.
Should these relocations be coupled with team sales, what we saw the Mets go for will only act as a boon. That’s one of the biggest takeaways from Monday’s historic news.
Overall, Monday’s news is great for the business of baseball. It’s now all about seeing whether owners are willing to look past some of the issues with Cohen and approve the sale of the Mets.