PHILADELPHIA — Hours before the Mets’ delayed Opening Day game against the Phillies, with the ink on Francisco Lindor’s $341 million contract extension still fresh, team owner Steve Cohen offered a new burst of optimism regarding his revamped roster.
“I’m not going to predict a World Series out of the gate,” Cohen said Monday on a video conference. “But what I do think is we’re going to be really competitive. I do believe we’re going to make the playoffs, and then once you get into the playoffs, anything can happen, right? So I’m pretty optimistic. The team looks good to me, and I think the fans are going to really enjoy this team.”
Cohen personally worked to finalize the Mets’ 10-year extension with Lindor last week, making a formal offer to the shortstop over dinner in Florida, before agreeing to slightly modified terms several days later. The Mets officially announced the contract on Monday, putting a capstone on perhaps the most frenetic offseason in franchise history.
“I look at Francisco as a cornerstone of our present and future,” Cohen said. “I think he’s going to lead us to division titles, pennants and World Series championships. He’s all in. I told you I’m all in, and this should leave no doubts.”
The owner spoke Monday about his desire to continue speaking to Michael Conforto and other players about extensions, with team president Sandy Alderson describing the team’s recent talks with Conforto as “brief but cordial.” In the same breath, Cohen indicated that “this is a big moment for him … to explore his free agency,” indicating that his expectations for a deal are, perhaps, not as high as they were for Lindor. Additional conversations with Conforto are not necessarily on Cohen’s short-term radar.
Winning is. Cohen plans to watch Monday’s game at home on television with his family, then take in the Mets’ home opener on Thursday from his suite at Citi Field. For that one, he intends to be active both in person and on Twitter, interacting with fans as he did throughout much of the offseason.
Like everything Cohen has pursued in his professional career, owning the Mets has come with a learning curve. He said he spends several hours on the team per day and is constantly available for Alderson and his staff, even while holding down his “day job” at Point72 Asset Management, the hedge fund he founded and developed into a multibillion-dollar enterprise. Still, having multiple jobs does not prevent Cohen, who grew up a Mets fan on Long Island, from focusing significant attention on the team.
“Everyone’s excited about the Mets this year,” Cohen said. “The outpouring of people — friends and acquaintances and fans — has been extraordinary, and they’re all excited. So that gets me excited, too.”
Added Alderson: “It’s a good team. I think it’s going to be an entertaining team. I think it’s captured the imagination of Mets fans, at least for the moment. So I’m very excited to see what happens.”