Steve Cohen doesn’t even have majority ownership of the New York Mets yet but the sheer prospect of him taking over is already sending waves through Major League Baseball.
The 64-year-old hedge-fund billionaire has long been viewed as a savior of sorts for the franchise — which has opted so often not to spend big to acquire top-notch talent — as rumors of his interest in the club swirled since his failed bid to take over in February.
Now as he’s entered exclusive negotiations over the weekend to take over majority ownership from the Wilpon family, a spending spree is believed to be on the horizon.
And the first name that has cropped up within the Mets’ rumor mill is Philadelphia Phillies All-Star catcher, JT Realmuto.
Considered one of the top catchers in the game, Realmuto is poised for a sizable payday after his contract expires this season — and it’s going to be far more than the $10 million he’s making this year.
Over his seven-year career, the 29-year-old has slashed .278/.327/.457 with 162-game averages of 21 home runs and 80 RBI.
Yet the Phillies have not made much progress on contract talks with Realmuto, though general manager Matt Klentak admitted that the club has spoken with the catcher’s representation on Monday.
Still, expect Realmuto to test the free-agent market this winter as a $100 million contract will not be out of the realm of possibilities for him. And if it comes to a bidding war, a potential Cohen-led Mets pursuit would likely trump all, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney.
“I think it’s going to be hard with Steve Cohen buying the Mets. Every new owner comes in and wants to make a statement and he’s going to be the richest owner in baseball… and [the Mets] need a catcher. It’s going to be a bidding war,” Olney said (h/t 97.5 The Fanatic). “I wouldn’t be surprised if the word out of the Mets is that they’ll bid more than whatever the Phillies put on the table.”
Cohen is valued at $14.6 billion, according to Forbes, and will have to flash some cash if he wants to turn the Mets into legitimate contenders quickly. That would provide a drastic culture change from the Wilpons, who spend just enough to create the illusion of contention, yet the Mets have one of MLB’s longest World Series droughts now at 34 years.
Realmuto would provide the Mets with their best catcher since Mike Piazza while signaling to the rest of Major League Baseball that the team in Queens is actually going for it.
But again, that all comes down to Cohen.