Introducing himself to the fan base and the press on Tuesday, new Mets owner Steve Cohen made one thing crystal clear: He didn’t spend $2.4 billion of his vast wealth to settle for second place.
The 64-year-old hedge fund manager from Great Neck, who fondly recalled going to his first Mets game with his father at the Polo Grounds in 1963, is living every die-hard Mets fan’s dream of running the franchise and controlling its destiny.
Like many other Mets fans, Cohen — who closed on his purchase of the Mets from Sterling Equities on Nov. 6 — expressed a deep desire not just to win in 2021, but to also turn the Amazin’s into a perennial championship contender.
“You want us to win the World Series, and so do I,” Cohen said. “New York fans have high expectations, and I want to exceed them. I want them to be great every year. I don’t just want to get into the playoffs. I want to win a championship.”
He even went on to set something close to a goal, saying that he would consider it “slightly disappointing” if the Mets didn’t win a World Series “within the next three to five years.”
The Mets’ new owner stressed the importance of bringing on an excellent baseball staff, under the tutelage of new team president Sandy Alderson, to rebuild the Mets’ scouting, analytical and player development programs and create organizational depth.
But the current Mets squad, though they’ve finished fourth in the standings three of the last four years, have a solid core of players to build around and win now, according to Cohen. They include two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom, outfielder Michael Conforto and the slugging tandem of first basemen Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith.
Cohen said the team will do what is necessary to win now and in the future, and will spend like “a major market team.” During the previous ownership, fans were critical that the Mets front office never spent enough to ensure success.
“We want to be excellent in all areas of this game,” he said. “That’s going to require resources, and I’m fully committed to making that happen. I’m not in this to be mediocre. I want something great, and I know the fans want something great. That’s my goal, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Cohen is now the richest owner in baseball, with a net worth of about $15 billion. While he committed to providing the Mets the resources they need to win, he stated that he would leave the baseball decisions to Alderson and the other professionals brought in to run the team.
That being said, he cautioned that the Mets would not “act like drunken sailors” in spending money on free agents.
“Part of building a sustainable franchise is that you want to make decisions about what works not just for the next 60 games, but also for the next four years,” Cohen said. “We’re in an unusual market today given COVID, where a lot of teams might be” offloading contracts because of financial concerns.
“I think Sandy and I want to take advantage of that,” he added, “and I want to take advantage of that. There will be lots of opportunities and we’ll see what’s available.”
Off the field, Cohen reiterated a commitment toward community investment. He tasked his wife, Alex, to run the Mets Foundation, the team’s nonprofit group, which will focus on boosting support to organizations in and around Citi Field.
“It’s an important part of being involved with a baseball team, the community cares about it, and we care about the communities,” he said. “We’re going to investigate and find out things that are worth backing and provide support for them. We look forward to that.”
Cohen also expressed his support for players who advocate for social justice and improving diversity in the game.
“If my players want to express themselves, they’re entitled to do it,” he said. “The only thing I ask for is that when you’re between the lines, you give a hundred percent.”