Mets Owners Agree to Sell Minority Interest to Investor

Hedge funder will pay $200 million for 49% of the team

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    Einhorn will try to add baseball to investing and poker success stories.

    The Mets have settled on a bidder to buy a minority share of the cash-strapped franchise.

    David Einhorn, president of the hedge fund Greenlight Capital, has been chosen to help the Wilpons deal with their financial bind by handing over $200 million for a 49 percent stake in the team.

    “David’s investment immediately improves the franchise’s financial position," Fred Wilpon, the Mets chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement. "Equally important, David’s intelligence, integrity and success in both business and civic affairs provides us with another perspective in evaluating what is best for this organization and our fans, and we welcome his input." 

    The deal does not include a stake in SNY, according to reports, and is believed to come with a valuation of the Mets at $1 billion. The heavy debt load is what allows Einhorn to get such a sizable chunk of the team without putting forth more cash as he will likely also be assuming an equal share of the debt as part of the deal.

    "Having an opportunity to become part of the Mets franchise is exciting beyond my wildest childhood dreams," Einhorn said in a statement.  "I spent my first seven years living in New Jersey and rooting for the Mets.  In 1975, I even dressed in a homemade jersey as a Met for Halloween.  I have been a baseball fan for my entire life and have enjoyed teaching the game as the coach of my daughter’s little league team."

    It must have been strange at the time, but it makes all the sense in the world right now. So what do we know about Einhorn, outside of the fact that his last name makes people of a certain age think only of "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective"?

    You're going to hear a lot about his role as the one man who saw through Lehman Brothers in the time leading up to their collapse during the 2008 financial meltdown. Einhorn made a killing shorting the dying company and publicly called them out for mismanagement, although those calls fell on deaf ears long enough for a lot of people to lose a lot of money.

    You'll also hear quite a bit about how he is leading the charge for Microsoft to get rid of CEO Steve Ballmer because of his "Charlie Brown" management style. He was actually giving a speech about that on Wednesday when he decided to throw some Mets love into the crowd.

    Taken together, you've got a guy who isn't afraid to agitate for a change in management who also knows how to make money off of an asset in a distressed state. In other words, he sounds like he's coming from central casting for Mets fans looking for an end to the Wilpon era.

    That change might not be imminent, but this situation plays a lot like the one that saw Stuart Sternberg buy a small share in the Rays before eventually forcing out Vince Naimoli. The full terms of the deal and Einhorn's involvement with operations aren't yet known, but anyone hoping for a change at the top has to be encouraged by the man who is now behind the curtain. 

    Especially when said guy is also a master poker player. A clear head for business, piles of cash and a sense of humor? Not a bad package for a knight in shining armor.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.