When Mets fans could first really feel the Steve Cohen effect

How about Mookie Betts, J.T. Realmuto and a retained Marcus Stroman wearing Mets uniforms on Opening Day of 2021?

Dare to dream, Mets fans.

Now, “dare” implies risk. Yet this dream holds a substantive chance of coming true.

Only Steve Cohen can say with certainty how quickly and aggressively he’ll infuse his riches into the mom-and-pop store that is the Mets, and the real-life inspiration for “Billions” hedge-fund maverick Bobby Axelrod comes off as far less loquacious than his fictional counterpart. Nevertheless, conversations with folks who know Cohen, the Mets or both lead one to believe Cohen will make his imprint on this franchise, as one experienced baseball executive put it, “sooner than later.”

Probably not soon enough to get, say, Gerrit Cole or Anthony Rendon. The agreement for Cohen to take over the Mets from the Wilpons and Saul Katz by 2025 hasn’t been completed yet, as the two sides announced Wednesday — remember the Mets spent many months in 2011 negotiating with another hedge-fund star, David Einhorn, before the arrangement fell apart short of the finish line — and you might have noticed the Hot Stove campaign has moved at a brisker pace than recent predecessors.

see also

Brodie Van Wagenen faces murky Mets future

There will be clear winners and losers in the deal…

For the 2021 season, though? As long as the deal actually gets done, why wouldn’t Cohen start spending some of those billions?

“There’s that bad-ass trader element with him,” a person who worked with Cohen said of him, on the condition of anonymity. “He’s still on the job making dough, so why not spend it?”

One of this development’s many fascinating components is Cohen’s assertion he will continue running his shop, Point72 Asset Management in Connecticut, another direct contrast to the people he’s replacing. For if the Wilpons’ fatal flaw has been their refusal and/or inability to spend like a big-market operation, their micromanagement of the Mets’ operations ranks a sturdy second. Cohen already went on record that he’ll delegate, and the early bet is he’ll honor those words unlike George Steinbrenner’s contention nearly 47 years ago upon purchasing the Yankees, that “I’ll stick to building ships.”

While he’ll delegate, though, with Fred and Jeff Wilpon desiring to hold onto their job titles through the 2024 season, every indication calls for Cohen to thirst for wins on the field the same way he strives to put together the best financial transactions and purchase the best art. And he understands the simple notion, one the Wilpons insufficiently embraced, that one must spend money to make it.

If, say, the 2021 Mets dramatically raise their payroll and it doesn’t lead to immediate success, then there must be a “shared responsibility,” as the experienced baseball executive put it, to cover the short-term losses. That shouldn’t be a significant sticking point given Cohen’s personal wealth, yet it stands as an issue that must be addressed.

see also

Cohens Mets takeover could include Willets Point sweetener

Steve Cohen, if he buys the Mets for a $2.6…

While Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen damaged the club’s long-term viability in his first season, trading away myriad prospects and committing to some silly contracts, those commitments must look like egg money to someone in Cohen’s tax bracket. Only three players on the roster — Jacob deGrom ($25 million), Robinson Cano ($12 million from the Mets) and Jeurys Familia ($11.67 million) — have guaranteed contracts for 2021, and deGrom ranks as an asset. The Mets sure don’t appear poised to add dramatically to that count in this current winter. Therefore, Van Wagenen (or, quite possibly, his successor) could enjoy wide latitude with a big budget for 2021.

Maybe Cohen would take a more incremental route to Yankeesville. That hasn’t been his M.O., however. It hasn’t gotten him to where he sits today.

Dream away, Mets fans. Hold your breath, your nose, for one more year. Know that such yearning could backfire, because these are the Mets and bad stuff just happens often.

Know too, though, how badly Cohen shares your dream. Given his personal fortune, that should count for something, right?

0 thoughts on “When Mets fans could first really feel the Steve Cohen effect”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.