Owner: Mets’ financial woes over post-Madoff mess
New York, NY, United States (4E Sports) – New York Mets principal owner Fred Wilpon announced that financial troubles that plagued them in the past are “all in the rearview mirror” now, adding that the team has the financial capability to sign big-game free-agents in the years to come.
Wilpon said his financial status has been boosted by the rebound of real estate and the thriving of the stock market and SportsNet New York, the television network in which his family owns a majority stake.
“It’s all in the rearview mirror,” Wilpon said after arriving at the team’s spring training complex. “The family is in great shape. The family really is in great shape. Sometimes luck is the residue of design.”
Also, the 76-year-old Wilpon could also heave a sigh of relief as he settled a lawsuit filed by the trustee trying to recover funds for victims of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.
Wilpon originally faced a $1 billion lawsuit regarding the Madoff scheme but he settled the case paying just $60 million.
The team owner also announced that the payroll, that went to as high as $148 million under Omar Minaya’s tenure as general manager, could return to past levels if the team is prudent.
The team payroll dropped to $95 million last year under general manager Sandy Alderson due to bank debt, according to Wilpon.
Due to their lack of financial capability to sign big-name players and terrible slumps through the year, the Mets have produced four straight losing seasons and have not reached the postseason since 2006.
However, Wilpon assured that the team will be aggressive in signing big-game players in the next offseasons.
“I think we would anticipate being big investors if that were appropriate,” Wilpon said. “That depends on what the market is. If the market is such that that’s where we have to be to be competitive and winners, yeah.
Despite failure to lure big-name players from the free-agent market, Wilpon is optimistic that the team could perform better this season.
“This team looks like basically a young team with some veterans, and hungry,” Wilpon said. “I think Sandy and the staff did a terrific job of getting some real good prospects for the bullpen. I’m hopeful and optimistic.”