Steve Cohen is now in a period in which he is trying to make his candidacy to be the Mets owner more appealing to the 29 owners, who will vote whether to have him join their club.
Which perhaps helps explain why Sandy Alderson could be coming back to Flushing and Andrew Cohen, one of Steve Cohen’s key lieutenants but a polarizing one, won’t be part of the day-to-day operations of the club. Steve and Andrew are not related.
An ownership subcommittee is currently vetting Steve Cohen and will provide a recommendation to the full body. All the owners could vote on Cohen as soon as late October or early November. He needs 23 yes votes to gain approval and succeed Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz as Mets owner.
Cohen is not a slam dunk. He is not expected to be unanimously approved. The question is whether there are two to four dissenters or whether that total could grow to eight, which would mean a rejection. To that end, one person close to Cohen said he will do all he could to present himself as benignly and positively as possible to the voters.
An MLB executive described Cohen almost as a political candidate “promising a chicken in every pot” to appeal to the 29 voters.
Which is why an alliance with Alderson makes sense.
Alderson was hired to be the Mets general manager after the 2010 season, with anything from a recommendation to a strong push from central baseball. The Mets were in both organizational disarray (familiar) and financial distress (due to the fallout from Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme). MLB wanted a steadying influence with gravitas and a strong reputation for propriety in the role. Bud Selig, then the commissioner, was very tight with Fred Wilpon and backed Alderson, who was named to succeed Omar Minaya.
Rob Manfred is now the commissioner, but Alderson’s reputation has remained similar in central baseball and around the game, even as he joined the Athletics as a special adviser after leaving the Mets.
If a worry about Steve Cohen, based on his financial career, is that he will run afoul of rules and not play well with others, Alderson could be seen as a mitigating agent. Alderson dealt with Cohen and his Mets board of directors proxy Andrew Cohen while he was GM. That he would return to work with Steve Cohen again could be an attempt to send a subliminal message to owners — would Alderson do this if he did not think Cohen would be a good owner who abided by the rules?
Cohen’s previous company, S.A.C. Capital Advisors, pleaded guilty to insider trading in 2013 and paid $1.8 billion in penalties. His current company, Point72 Asset Management, recently reached an agreement with a female employee who had sued, claiming unfair pay practices based on gender and that Point72 had a sexist work environment.
Whether these issues, in particular, are enough to cause the other owners to not approve Cohen remains a mystery. But that Andrew Cohen will not be part of the day-to-day running of the club suggests that Steve Cohen wants to remove as many concerns as possible.
Andrew Cohen runs Cohen Private Ventures, which is Steve Cohen’s family office. Essentially, Andrew oversees almost everything that Steve owns or invests in outside the Point72 hedge fund, which includes the 8 percent stake in the Mets. That minority stake is why Andrew Cohen serves on the Mets board of directors.
He also is viewed as one of Steve Cohen’s most trusted advisers. There was some belief within MLB that Andrew Cohen could gain a prominent role if Steve Cohen’s 95 percent purchase of the Mets was finalized. One MLB executive said that Andrew Cohen’s reputation for playing bad cop in Steve Cohen’s company would move Steve Cohen’s bid to be viewed less favorably among owners.
Which might explain why Steve Cohen emphasized baseball expertise as key to Mets leadership under his watch.
“It’s premature to talk about management decisions,” Cohen said. “But I can say with certainty that baseball people will be running baseball operations.”
— Additional reporting by Thornton McEnery
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