Bobby Valentine looks into Mets stake

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- A vocal portion of the New York Mets fan base wanted the organization to hire Bobby Valentine as manager last offseason. That did not happen, but that does not mean Valentine will not be back roaming Citi Field.

Valentine has spoken with serious financial backers and is lining up a bid to buy at least a portion of the Mets, a baseball official told ESPNNewYork.com.

"I've talked to a number of people interested in purchasing part of the New York Mets, but I'm not formally with any group that is actively pursuing this venture," Valentine said Sunday night.

Valentine, 60, managed the Mets to their last World Series appearance, in 2000 against the New York Yankees, and remains a highly popular figure among the fan base.

During his seven-year tenure at the organization’s helm, he also presided over the club as New York dealt with the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Valentine took a leading role as Shea Stadium’s parking lots became a staging area for relief efforts.

Valentine was a serious candidate for the Florida Marlins managerial position last offseason, but he has always set his sights higher than on-field baseball. In addition to his ESPN baseball analyst duties, he recently was named director of public health and safety of his Stamford, Conn., hometown. He plans to donate the $10,000-a-year salary to charity.

Mets principal owner Fred Wilpon announced his intention to explore the sale of 20 to 25 percent of the team because of financial issues. Steve Greenberg, the man picked by Wilpon to identify prospective buyers, since has stated a higher percentage could be sold as long as the Wilpons retained a controlling interest.

Whether the family can retain control, though, has been questioned. The team acknowledged Friday that it required a loan from Major League Baseball in November, reportedly for $25 million, because of liquidity issues. More ominously, the ownership family is facing a $1 billion lawsuit brought by the trustee trying to recover funds for victims of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.

Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com.