Sandy Alderson answers questions during a press conference after being...

Sandy Alderson answers questions during a press conference after being introduced as the Mets' general manager. (Oct. 29, 2010) Credit: Getty Images

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said Tuesday that the Mets expect to have a group of investors in place shortly after the start of 2012, and perhaps as early as January, which would mean a cash influx that could be worth eventually $200 million for the financially hurting franchise.

Alderson's comments during the team's annual kids holiday party at Citi Field come on the heels of Monday's acknowledgment by the Mets of a recent bridge loan, which a source said was for $40 million. The loan comes on top of the $25 million the club already borrowed from Major League Baseball more than a year ago.

A source said the funds for the bridge loan were secured by Bank of America.

"I wasn't even aware of the [bridge] loan until [Monday]," Alderson said, "so it couldn't have had any impact on what I've done. On the other hand, I'm not surprised that with the losses that we sustained last year, they have to be funded somehow, and that's either with cash or debt, and I think a bridge loan makes perfect sense given the investments that are expected to close in January."

Alderson was referring to the Mets' strategy of rounding up a group of about 10 investors, at roughly $20 million each, to sell a minority stake in the franchise. Principal owner Fred Wilpon, along with team president Saul Katz and COO Jeff Wilpon, have not provided any details of that process, other than to say it has been "going very well."

Alderson was asked later in the day during an interview on Fox Business Network whether the Mets were financially sound.

"Yes, I think with this infusion of cash together with the possibility, I think the strong likelihood in the next two or three months that there will be additional investors in Mets ownership, that we should be good to go over the next couple years," he said.

The Mets have said they have seven potential investors who are being vetted by Major League Baseball. A source said the team has another six or seven prospects under consideration. The source also said the Mets need only three to meet the goal of 10 investors. The source, however, expects the transactions to close in February.

The source said the $200 million from unit sales is earmarked to pay for 2011 and estimated 2012 losses.

Jeff Wilpon made a brief appearance at the holiday party, but he did not comment on the recent loan or the pending sale of minority shares. In addition to the two loans, the Mets' ownership group also is facing a lawsuit from Irving Picard, the trustee for the victims of Bernard Madoff. Picard is trying to recover as much as $386 million. There is a jury hearing set for March 19.

Alderson already has said that the Mets' 2012 payroll will not exceed $100 million, and could even be below that number, as the team keeps some cash in reserve for amateur signing bonuses later in the year.

recommended readingAll-Long Island baseball history

The Mets didn't make an offer to homegrown shortstop Jose Reyes, who earlier this month signed a six-year, $106-million contract with the Marlins.

When asked if the sale of minority shares in the team would help him increase the payroll at some point, Alderson hedged.

"I think eventually," he said, "but I wouldn't expect that an influx of capital in January or February would have a major impact on our payroll for 2012, at least going into the season."

As for subsequent years, Alderson hinted in the past that the Mets' money problems will plague the team beyond this season, and he did not shy away from that Tuesday, despite a somewhat more optimistic spin.

"Anytime there is debt, there's interest to be paid, which presumably is a cash requirement, so I guess theoretically there could be some impact on payroll," Alderson said. "But I really don't believe it will have any. Most teams have debt."

With Steven Marcus

Newsday LogoDON'T MISS THIS LIMITED-TIME OFFER1 5 months for only $1Save on Unlimited Digital Access