David Faber On WFAN: Distrust Led To Steve Cohen Ending Negotiations With Wilpons

CNBC Reporter Speculates Whether Another Buyer Could Be Interested In Mets

Moose & Maggie
February 05, 2020 - 1:03 pm

Steve Cohen has walked away from the negotiating table. 

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Cohen had been in negotiations to 80 percent of the Mets, worth $2.6 billion. He currently owns an 8 percent share, according to The New York Times, but was set to become the majority stakeholder once the deal became finalized. Cohen broke off discussions with Mets CEO Fred Wilpon and COO Jeff Wilpon when the latter attempted to make a last-minute change to the agreement. 

David Faber of CNBC confirmed the New York Post's report, claiming the deal was in jeopardy due to Cohen's frustrations with the ownership group. Faber, who reached out to Cohen directly to no avail, broke down what transpired between both parties. He told WFAN's Maggie Gray and Marc Malusis that Cohen's trust had faded when the Wilpons' asking price increased. 

"What appears to have taken place is that the Wilpons came back to Cohen and wanted more (money)," Faber said Wednesday. "Often times you might think, well he just paid but in this case Cohen felt like they had a deal. It was a deal that they had agreed upon and he's looking at five more years of dealing with them and felt like, 'how can I trust them to be good partners given the five year transition that the original deal was designed to incorporate?' I think it's more likely than not that that he walks, although you can always say it's a matter of re-negotiating but it doesn't appear necessarily that it would be the case."

Faber speculated to whether the Wilpons have an anonymous buyer interested in the team waiting in the shadows and are using the "buyer" to drive up the price.

"I've been trying to pursue this, Faber said "... whether there's somebody else out there who perhaps came to the Wilpons and gave them a number that was above where Cohen is and they felt like, 'maybe we've got some leverage here or maybe we can just go back and see.' I've had a number of people interestingly say to me that the outcome is going to be a good one no matter what happens here — people who conceivably would know. I don't know what to make of that. I don't know whether to fully understand whether there is potentially a higher bid out there that might come if this thing falls apart."

In December, the Mets publically acknowledged the ongoing negotiations for Cohen to increase his investment. Cohen has yet to speak out about the negotiations due to a nondisclosure agreement while the Mets provided a vauge statment, saying the parties cannot comment. Faber, however, believed Cohen and the Wilpons were nearing a deal. 

"I think it was fairly close to the finish line," Faber said. "I think they had what they thought was a deal that was going to get finalized. That said; this thing hadn't been put to the ownership committee of baseball. It hadn't reached the executive council, where they would vote. There was no timetable for Major League Baseball to vote on the change of control so they did have a ways to go."

Multiple outlets have indicated that the deal is in jeopardy. WFAN baseball insider Jon Heyman believes Cohen and the Wilpons could get on the same page and re-negotiate the deal, but Faber isn't as optimistic. 

"I feel like it's a pretty low percentage it's going to happen," Faber said. "I wouldn't say zero because these things are fluid and you never completely know. Just because he walked now doesn't necessarily mean he won't come back perhaps if there's some reason to but I do wonder about that key trust issue. You've got to trust the other person on the other side of the table from you and if you lose that trust ... I think that adds that layer of uncertainty here that makes it less likely."

Click the audio player above to listen to David Faber's interview in its entirety.