This morning, the Wilpons and the Madoff trustees reached a settlement that'll cost the Wilpons $162 million ... maybe. What's this mean? You have questions, we (sorta) have answers.
Is this a win for the Wilpons?
Yes. They could have been out $386 million ... personally. This $162 million — $1 million per game of the baseball season! — doesn't have to be paid for three years, which gives the Wilpons not only some flexibility cash-wise but even gives them the opportunity to get some of that cash back in their own lawsuit.
Yeah, they're suing the Madoff estate for $178 million themselves. (Though some reports say they actually made money from Madoff, perversely.) They have pledged to personally pay $29 million of the settlement.
Their response after settling to pay $162 million is to promise to pay $29 million?
It's terrific being rich.
So, are they going to have to sell the Mets now?
No, barring some other catastrophe we don't know about. (Which, with this franchise, is always a possibility.) The Wilpon net worth is still high enough post this settlement (particularly if they get some of that Madoff estate lawsuit money over the next three years) to weather the storm, even if the Mets keep losing $70 million or so a season. Though, if you've looked at the payroll lately, you know it'll be hard for even the Mets to lose that much this year.
Does this mean they're gonna go signing free agents?
Hardly. As we've said before, the Mets were going to slow down spending no matter what during their Sandy Alderson-mandated rebuilding. The Mets are highly unlikely to be contenders over the next three seasons, so, presumably, the Wilpons will have their financial house in order by the time the Mets are ready to contend again.
Should Mets fans be upset about this?
Well, ideally, Warren Buffett would just buy the team and say, "Every player makes $50 million, and also tickets are free. Oh, and while you're here, beer's on me too." But this could really be a lot worse. This is, after all, New York — the Wilpons aren't going to be running this team like the Pirates forever. There will be money to spend, eventually. The question for the Mets, as always, is how they spend it. But that is always the problem with this team, isn't it?