General manager Sandy Alderson said the team lost $70 million last year, and the Mets' payroll has dropped from $142 million at the end of last season to about $95 million following the departures of All-Stars Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez, the largest one-year drop in baseball history. Star third baseman David Wright is entering the final guaranteed year of his contract, and the Mets could listen to trade offers this summer.
Still, the deal announced Monday left Wilpon and Katz, who together personally promised to guarantee $29 million for the trustee, speaking confidently of the team's future.
Katz said outside the courthouse that the Mets were on secure financial footing. "Always was," he said.
Wilpon said: "As we've said from the very beginning when this lawsuit started, we are not willfully blind, we never was, we acted in good faith, and we're very pleased that this settlement bears that out. That's very important to us."
As he stepped into a car, Wilpon declined to discuss how the settlement might affect the club's efforts to raise additional cash. Earlier, he said he was resuming work at "trying to bring the New York Mets back to prominence."
The road to a settlement may have been paved weeks ago when Rakoff ruled Picard could try to recoup only $386 million from the Mets owners.
Former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, who acted as mediator, said the settlement lets Picard focus on 800 pending lawsuits against those who profited from their investment with Madoff.
He said Picard and the Mets owners "avoided the risks and uncertainty of ... a long, bitter and expensive trial" in a deal that was fair and reasonable.
"Nobody gets everything they want in a settlement. But both sides helped their causes," Cuomo said.
Dodgers Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax had been scheduled to testify in the trial about the intentions of Wilpon, who encouraged him to invest with Madoff.
AP Sports Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.