USA TODAY Sports Weekly
Mets owner a combination of Steinbrenner, Sinatra
When he bought the New York Mets two years ago, Steve Cohen represented a glimmer of hope for the team’s fans, who’d become accustomed to – and disgusted with – the pennypinching ways of the previous ownership group.
He’s more than lived up to those high expectations, spending big and willing to do even more.
In an interview with ESPN last week, Cohen shared some of his vision for the team, sounding a lot like another revered New York baseball team owner, the late George Steinbrenner.
“George seemed bigger than life and passionate about baseball and brought a lot of life to the game,” Cohen told ESPN. “He made baseball interesting. And he did it his way. I’m going to do it my way.”
Even without landing his biggest target – Carlos Correa’s $315 million deal never made it past the shortstop’s physical – Cohen spent nearly $500 million on free agent contracts this offseason.
Along the way, Cohen has had to deal with criticism from other owners who point to the huge discrepancy between the high- and low-payroll teams as bad for the game.
“I’ve heard what everyone else has heard: that they’re not happy with me,” Cohen told ESPN. “I kind of look at that like, you’re looking at the wrong person. They’re putting it on me. Maybe they need to look more at themselves.”
To hold the line on excessive spending, MLB’s new collective bargaining agreement last spring included an extra layer of penalties for teams going over $293 million in total payroll – something many have dubbed the “Cohen Tax.”
The Mets spent that last year, even before the new tax went into effect, with a payroll just a shade under $300 million. And entering this season, they’re projected to fork out even more – roughly $350 million, according to Spotrac.
The bottom line is that Cohen is willing to spend money to make money. Similar to the hedge fund he runs, Cohen sees it as a relentless pursuit to find value.
“I came in saying I’m all-in. And I keep my word.”