Commissioner Rob Manfred’s take on approving Steve Cohen as new Mets owner is the same as fans: The sooner the better.
Before he officially takes control of the Mets, Cohen needs to get the OK from 23 of 30 team owners. MLB has not revealed a date for such a vote, but sources previously said it is expected to happen well before the mid-November owners’ meetings — and that Cohen is expected to have the required support.
"All I’m going to say on that one," Manfred said, "is we’re going to try to process this as quickly as possible."
Manfred was speaking on "Big Time Baseball," a Radio.com podcast hosted by MLB Network’s Jon Heyman and Padres broadcaster Tony Gwynn Jr. on Monday — two weeks after the Mets announced Cohen agreed to buy the team from the Wilpon and Katz families.
For now, MLB remains in the process of vetting Cohen and the details of a deal that values the Mets at about $2.475 billion, a record for a U.S. sports franchise. When it is finalized, Cohen will own 95% of the franchise, with the Wilpons and Katzes retaining 5%.
MLB’s weekslong review includes an extensive background check and approval of the finer financial/structural points of the transaction by various ownership committees. Typically, the vote itself is a mere formality, once it gets to that stage.
In the meantime, Cohen is allowed to consult on Mets decisions, which this time of year usually involves setting budgets — for the major-league roster, sure, but also for baseball operations staffing/resources and other departments — and planning for the offseason.
"It’s up to the owners ultimately as to whether Mr. Cohen will be approved," Manfred said. "But I think given the time of year, we would like to move this along as quickly as possible so the Mets have certainty as they go into the offseason and it’s absolutely clear who is making the decisions about how the roster is going to be put together, what the budget is and what the 2021 version of the New York Mets is going to look like."
The sooner the better, and the sooner the easier. Once approved, Cohen, who plans to take the titles of chairman and chief executive officer, can more formally implement his vision for the club.
He already announced his intention of hiring former general manager Sandy Alderson as team president, overseeing all baseball and business operations. But Cohen also will be deciding on the fate of GM Brodie Van Wagenen and others and shaping the roster.
Until Cohen is approved, chairman/chief executive officer Fred Wilpon remains in charge. Wilpon is reputed to have maintained a strong relationship with the MLB central office throughout his tenure as Mets owner despite the franchise’s issues, and Manfred indeed praised him again Monday.
"Let me start with Fred Wilpon," Manfred said, before getting to the subject of Cohen’s approval. "Fred Wilpon has been a great owner of the Mets for a substantial period of time. He’s really well respected among the other owners. Whatever the outcome, the result, nobody wanted to win more than Fred Wilpon. He desperately wanted to deliver a winner on a consistent basis to Mets fans. Not always possible. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose."