NEW YORK (AP): In a surprising turn of events, Major League outfielder Jeff Francoeur has purchased a controlling interest in the New York Mets from the former owners, the Wilpon Family. The purchase, effective immediately, of 69 percent of the team was for a reported $550 million.
Francoeur, who played for the Mets during the 2009 and 2010 seasons after beginning his career with the Atlanta Braves, was traded to the American League champion Texas Rangers in August and since has signed with the Kansas City Royals. The purchase of a Major League baseball franchise by an active player is not allowed under baseball’s operating agreement but Commissioner Bud Selig announced that he would waive the rule because “Hey, it’s Jeff Francoeur, everybody likes him.”
As his first act as owner, Francoeur announced that he would retain the recently hired Sandy Alderson as General Manager but didn’t want any of “that walking crap” to enter into player evaluations. Alderson then announced the trade of All-Star third baseman David Wright and reliever Manny Acosta to the Royals for Francoeur and fellow outfielder Melky Cabrera. A trade of a recently signed free agent is banned by the Major League Collective Bargaining Agreement, but Francoeur was able to secure a waiver with brief phone calls to the Commissioner and the Major League Baseball Players’ Association.
Francoeur has earned slightly under $10 million during his playing career, plus an unknown amount from endorsements. When asked how he was able to secure the needed $550 million to purchase the team, Francoeur replied that “I just went into the bank and asked for it, and they gave me an unsecured, interest-free loan. Hey, I’m Jeff Francoeur. People like to give me stuff.” It was later revealed that the bank in question was the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
The Wilpon family has suffered recent financial reverses due in part to its involvement with financial schemer Bernie Madoff and others. When asked why after attempting to sell a minority stake they chose to sell a controlling interest, Fred Wilpon asked rhetorically, “Who can say no to Jeff? Hey, he’s Jeff Francoeur!”
The Wilpons maintain a minority interest in the ballclub but are reportedly in negotiations to sell this remainder to pop star Justin Bieber.