On Friday, the Wilpons and Katzes finalized their $2.4 billion sale of the Mets to Steve Cohen, a monumental day in the franchise’s history. How could you not have questions about this? How could we
On Friday, the Wilpons and Katzes finalized their $2.4 billion sale of the Mets to Steve Cohen, a monumental day in the franchise’s history. How could you not have questions about this? How could we not have answers?
Q: So what’s the first step? A firing? A signing? Both at once?
A: You’ve waited a very long time for this moment, and now you’ll have to wait a few more days until the sale officially closes. Once that occurs, Sandy Alderson, as Cohen already announced, will become the Mets’ president, overseeing both baseball and business operations. Few if any would be surprised if Alderson kicks off his second Mets tour of duty by dismissing current general manager Brodie Van Wagenen.
Q: Who would replace Van Wagenen, and what about Luis Rojas in the manager’s office?
A: The most important answer here is “multiple people.” As The Post’s Mike Puma has reported, Cohen and Alderson will strive to replicate the front-office structure of many teams by employing both a president of baseball operations and a general manager. Bobby Heck, Billy Owens and J.P. Ricciardi rank as possible candidates, and there’ll be more. While the heads of baseball ops will decide on Rojas, it can’t hurt the skipper’s case, his shaky rookie year notwithstanding, that he served as a minor league manager during all eight of Alderson’s seasons as general manager.
Q: How significant a housecleaning of the organization should we anticipate?
A: Not a massive one, outside the likely departure of Van Wagenen and possibly some of his deputies. Alderson knows many of the employees from his previous time with the Mets and doesn’t appear inclined to replace people by the scores. For instance, Alderson appreciates first-hand the goodwill that organizational institution Jay Horwitz, team historian and vice president of alumni public relations, brings with him.
Q: How active will Cohen be in the club’s day-to-day operations?
A: This is always a “Time will tell” situation. Some owners wind up spending far more time than they envision and others far less. Cohen, however, begins his reign with quite the day job, running Point72 Asset Management.
Q: Will Citi Field change at all?
A: It is customary for new ownership to put its imprint on a ballpark, like when Derek Jeter memorably removed the Home Run Sculpture from Marlins Park. However, nothing so dramatic seems likely from the get-go. The biggest fan complaint about Citi, arguably the Wilpons’ crowning achievement, might be the Jackie Robinson Rotunda (because Robinson never played for the Mets), but that won’t be going anywhere.
Q: OK, the big question: How high will the payroll go, and how quickly will it get there?
A: While Cohen may be a loaded Mets fan, he didn’t get this rich by ignoring realities. Reality bites right now, in the form of 2021 revenues being seriously in question thanks to the coronavirus, so don’t expect him to immediately, dramatically increase the Mets’ payroll, which would have been about $192 million (as per luxury-tax calculations, thanks to Spotrac) last year if not for the shutdown. Approaching the Yankees, who figure to be in the $210 million neighborhood, does seem feasible, and while it’s not yet clear how much arbitration-eligible players will make thanks to the COVID-reduced 2020 campaign, spending that much would allow the Mets to pursue at least one high-end free agent.