Report: Steve Cohen Might Not Get Another Chance To Buy A Team

Mets, MLB Said To Believe He Acted In Bad Faith In Talks

Ryan Chatelain
February 07, 2020 - 3:57 pm

Steve Cohen's dream of owning a Major League Baseball team may be dead for good.

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After talks between the hedge-fund billionaire and the Mets collapsed this week, Cohen might be blocked from ever owning a team, the New York Post reported Friday.

According to the newspaper, Cohen broke the nonbinding term sheet he signed to buy the Mets. That deal stipulated that Cohen would become the majority owner of the team immediately but that Fred Wilpon would remain the team's control person and CEO for five more years, sources told the Post.

However, Cohen believed he would have input into the team's front-office hires and player personnel. He was not willing to sign a binding agreement that wouldn't give him gradual control of the club over the five-year transition period, the Post reported. The Wilpons wouldn't budge.

Steve Cohen

The Wilpons also wanted to include language that would have promised pay raises for chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon, the Post confirmed. As WFAN's Evan Roberts reported Thursday, that request particularly irked Cohen. The raises would have increased Jeff Wilpon's salary from about $2.5 million a year now to around $4 million in the fifth year, a source told Roberts.

Cohen, who owns an 8% share of the Mets, also sought to reduce the amount of upfront payments, and some sources claimed he proposed lowering the overall price of the purchase as well, according to the Post. Earlier reports said Cohen was negotiating to buy an 80% stake in the Mets, with the team being valued at $2.6 billion overall. 

The Mets and MLB believe Cohen acted in bad faith, the Post article said. Combined with Cohen's controversial record with his hedge fund business, it's possible he might never be approved as a majority owner. One source said that, even if he and the Mets had closed on a deal, "there could have still been approval issues."

In 2013, Cohen's firm, then known as SAC Capital, agreed to pay $1.8 billion to settle charges that it tolerated rampant insider trading. In 2016, the Securities and Exchange Commission barred Cohen -- who was accused of failing to adequately oversee an employee who engaged in insider trading -- from managing money for outside investors for two years. Cohen did not admit to any wrongdoing.

In 2012, he made an offer for the Los Angeles Dodgers but was outbid by a group headlined by Magic Johnson and Guggenheim Partners, who bought the franchise for $2.3 billion.

The Mets said Thursday night they are still looking for a new owner and will open a bidding process.