Weeks after the deal was supposed to be done, the Mets and prospective minority owner David Einhorn are still working out details of their partnership.
The period in which Einhorn had exclusive rights to negotiate with the Mets expired earlier this month, leading to speculation that there might be a snag.
The team reaffirmed yesterday that Einhorn remains the chosen candidate to be minority partner, and the deal is expected to be completed in mid-August. "We are in exclusive negotiations with David Einhorn and continue to have positive and productive discussions regarding David's ongoing interest in an investment in the Mets," the Mets said in a statement.
Although commissioner Bud Selig endorsed Einhorn at the All-Star Game last week, a person familiar with the Mets situation said the team had contacted commodities trader Ray Bartoszek. There were no details on the extent or substance of the contact. Bartoszek was among the bidders for a minority share before Einhorn was selected on May 26. The Mets did not comment on Bartoszek.
Einhorn's bid was reviewed by MLB shortly after it was picked by the Mets, and Selig confirmed last week in Phoenix that he had approved the sale. "Once the financial deal is done, yes," Selig said. "He played baseball in my backyard. How can I turn him down?"
Under the parameters of that deal, Einhorn would have a chance to buy a controlling interest in the Mets if principal owner Fred Wilpon, team president Saul Katz and chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon were unable to pay him back the $200 million over a period of time. If the ownership group did repay Einhorn, he would retain his initial share.
Fred Wilpon and Katz are being sued for $1 billion by Madoff trustee Irving Picard, who has accused Wilpon and Katz, who invested with Madoff, of ignoring warning signs that Madoff was involved in illicit activities. Wilpon and Katz have denied wrongdoing. The suit was moved from bankruptcy court to federal court in the Southern District of New York earlier this month.
With Ken Davidoff and Steven Marcus