Alex Rodriguez is fuming over losing the Mets to billionaire Steve Cohen and griping that the process was rigged, multiple sources tell The Post.
Sources close to the former Yankees slugger say they lost the Queens team on Friday, Aug. 28 after the Mets’ banker — Steve Greenberg of Allen & Co. — reached out to ask for a sneak peek at what was being offered. The request came days ahead of the official Aug. 31 bidding deadline.
A-Rod — who has been vying for The Amazins with his superstar fiancee Jennifer Lopez — reluctantly complied with the request only to learn later that same day that the Mets were in exclusive deal talks with Cohen.
The founder of Point72 Asset Management had offered $2.35 billion for the team — or just $50 million more than the $2.3 billion bid offered by Rodriguez and his group of investors.
The former Yankees’ third baseman is now convinced that the Mets spoonfed his bid information to Cohen so the billionaire financier and art collector could have the highest offer and win the team. “They took the bids and showed them to Cohen,” a source familiar with A-Rod’s thinking claimed.
The Mets and Cohen declined comment. Greenberg didn’t return calls for comment.
Experts tell The Post that it’s unusual for a seller to set a bidding deadline and then push for that information in advance. But they also note that there’s not much that can be done even if Cohen had been given a sneak peek because the Mets are a private company and can play ball with whomever they want.
“It’s not normal but things like this do happen,” said Steven Smith, a managing partner at law firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner who specializes in sports transactions. “In the end, the sellers’ goal is to get the highest price for the team.”
But A-Rod’s camp contends the 14-time All-Star would have considered raising his offer if he had been given the chance. A bidding war, sources contend, might have resulted in an extra $100 million for the New York team.
But the Mets never went back to see if A-Rod wanted to match or better Cohen’s offer, sources said. Rodriguez has been trying to reach Mets’ owner Fred Wilpon since Friday but can’t get him on the phone, they added.
“It was fixed,” a second source close to the A-Rod camp said.
Rodriguez and Lopez are furious because they now feel they were led on all these months into thinking they might have a shot at the team. They blame Mets’ co-owner Saul Katz who, insiders say, was more recently driving the negotiations.
Cohen and the Mets are now expected to close their new deal in days. The deal calls for Cohen to fork over roughly $1.6 billion in cash, to assume the team’s substantial debt and to cover some of the $200 million the Mets will lose this season due to the coronavirus, sources say. The total package is estimated to be worth $2.35 billion.
That’s $250 million less than the $2.6 billion Cohen had offered last year before he walked away in February over issues of control. As The Post previously reported, that deal fell apart after Mets COO Jeff Wilpon made it clear that any sale to Cohen would require that he retain his title for five years, his salary and various perks, including a private plane.
Of course, the Cohen deal could very well fall apart again. Major League Baseball is expected to spend three months once the deal closes investigating Cohen’s background before putting his ownership up for a vote. Three-quarters of the league’s owners would need to approve the purchase before it can be finalized.
Cohen has some strikes against him, most famously a 2013 insider trading plea by his former firm, SAC Capital Advisors, which resulted in a $1.8 billion fine and Cohen agreeing to return outside money until January 2018. Cohen, himself, was not charged.
If Cohen gets rejected by the MLB or the deal otherwise falls apart, it’s unclear whether Rodriguez would be willing to step up to the plate again considering how burned he and his investment partners now feel, a source familiar with his thinking said.
“Who knows?” this person quipped when asked whether the slugger might take another swing.