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Big League Stew

Mets get good news with loan, which means good news with payroll

David Brown
Big League Stew

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Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon. (Getty)

The New York Mets biggest victory of 2014 has come long before opening day and happened nowhere near a Major League Baseball diamond. It has to do with a $250 million loan that owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz have hanging over them. The loan is going to be refinanced, which includes removal of restrictions on how much the team can add to payroll.

They finally can see light at the end of the tunnel and it's not the No. 7 train.

Mets partners were among a long list victimized by Bernie Madoff's ponzie scheme. Cash flow has been a problem ever since — with stopgap loans being required and many favors cashed in, putting current ownership in peril of losing the team. As a result, the team's payroll, about $140 million in 2010, is going to be about $93 million in 2014 — which would rank 24th out of 30 teams.

The New York Post published details Thursday night about the loan refinancing that includes phrases one should never read in a baseball story. They include: "This will be oversubscribed," and "The rate will likely end up at Libor, plus 300 basis points."

So Libor is one of the guys competing for the starting shortstop job, or?

The Post writes:

Until recently, it wasn’t certain investors weren’t going to insist the team owners pay down some of the loan to get the refinancing done.

Wilpon and Katz will not be asked for any cash paydown, sources said.

Plus, interest payments are expected to stay about the same, a source with direct knowledge of the situation said.

The rate will likely end up at Libor, plus 300 basis points, or a shade under 4 percent, a source said.

The seven-year re-fi will give Wilpon and Katz much- desired financial breathing room, sources said.

For the longtime friends and team owners, it is perhaps the best outcome they could have hoped for.

For Mets fans hoping for new ownership to breathe new life — along with some power and pitching — into the line-up, perhaps the news is less thrilling.

So cynical, one paragraph at a time! Without the refinancing, a big cash payment on the principal — perhaps an "insurmountable" one — was coming in the spring. This gets Wilpon and Katz off the hook for that. It buys them more time to own the team and make it competitive again. That's good news, unless you wanted them to have to sell the team. Are there people out there who want the Wilpons to sell the team?

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David Brown edits Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rdbrown@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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