Sources: Mets close to selling shares

The New York Mets expect to close on the sale of between four to seven minority shares in the next few weeks, sources familiar with the process told ESPNNewYork.com.

The 4 percent shares in the team are for $20 million apiece and would raise between $80 million and $140 million in an attempt to help stabilize the financially troubled franchise.

The infusion would allow the Mets to repay a $40 million bridge loan to Bank of America as well as a $25 million loan from Major League Baseball.

Still, even the minority investments can be viewed as loans rather than equity. Sources familiar with the process told ESPNNewYork.com that investors have the option of cashing out their shares in six years. In 2018, the investors can have their principal returned along with 3 percent annual interest.

Despite the expected investments, Mets principal owner Fred Wilpon and family still have several financial hurdles to retain long-term ownership of the team.

The trustee attempting to recover funds for victims of swindler Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme is suing the Wlipon family for $386 million. The jury trial is scheduled for March 19 in Judge Jed S. Rakoff's U.S. District courtroom in lower Manhattan.

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said the organization lost $70 million last year. That has led to a slashing of payroll, roughly from $140 million last season to $95 million for the upcoming season.

Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com.