The deal is done: Steve Cohen closes on Mets purchase, front office gets cleaned out

Steve Cohen is official the new owner of the New York Mets.
REUTERS/Illustration by Joe Pantorno

Billionaire Steve Cohen completed his purchase of the New York Mets on Friday, closing a $2.4 billion deal with the team’s previous owners, Fred and Jeff Wilpon, and ushering in a new era for the Flushing faithful.

“This is a significant milestone in the history of this storied franchise,” Cohen said Friday upon completion of the deal, his first official statement as the Mets’ majority owner. “I want to thank everyone who helped make this happen. The 2021 season is right around the corner and we’ve got a lot of work to do, so I’m excited to get started. Let’s go Mets.”

That work began with a major front office house-cleaning.

General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen, Special Assistant to the General Manager Omar Minaya, Assistant General Manager for Scouting and Player Development Allard Baird, Assistant General Manager Adam Guttridge and Executive Director for Player Development Jared Banner are “leaving the organization,” according to new Mets President and former General Manager Sandy Alderson.

“I want to thank Brodie, Allard, Adam and Jared for their contributions over the last two years,” Alderson said in a statement. “I especially want to thank Omar for his long and distinguished service to the Mets in many important capacities.” 

Minaya was previously the Mets general manager between 2005 and 2010.

Alderson is now in the process of building what the team called a baseball management group.

The Cohen deal ended the Wilpons’ 19-year sole ownership of the city’s National League franchise, and Fred Wilpon’s 40-year association with the ballclub. The elder Wilpon and Nelson Doubleday had purchased the Mets back in 1980 for $21.1 million; the Wilpons would purchase complete control of the franchise nearly 20 years later.

For months, Mets fans have been on pins and needles about the future of the team, after the first reports surfaced that the Wilpons were considering selling the team. Over the Wilpons’ nearly two-decade stewardship, since 2001, the Mets had only made the playoffs three times, and experienced just eight winning seasons.

The Wilpons had also been financially impacted by the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme between 2008-09, suffering severe losses and having to pay a $162 million settlement to a group of Madoff’s victims. Most recently, the Mets were said to be in hundreds of millions of dollars in debt.

Last December, Cohen — who had owned 8% of the club — had agreed in principle to purchase a majority stake, but the deal fell through.

Cohen re-emerged as one of several bidders for the Mets during 2020 and would wind up outbidding several other rivals including a consortium that included former Yankee shortstop Alex Rodriguez and singer/actor Jennifer Lopez. 

Last week, Major League Baseball’s owners approved the $2.4 billion deal between Cohen and the Wilpons. Mayor Bill de Blasio also gave his blessing to the plan, after the city’s Law Department reviewed the terms of the Mets’ Citi Field lease. 

With a personal net worth of $15 billion, Cohen has become the richest owner in MLB, and Mets fans are hoping he’ll spend what it takes to build a perennial winner.

Sources close to Cohen believe that Alderson will work to boost the Mets’ international scouting and analytical departments.