Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz have reached a settlement with Irving Picard, the trustee for those swindled by Bernie Madoff (above), in the latter’s federal lawsuit that could’ve well have resulted in the franchise being sold. From the New York Times’ Richard Sandomir and Ken Belson :

The agreement, which must be approved by the court, is a significant victory for Wilpon and Katz. In addition to no longer having to fight a costly and damaging legal battle against a well-heeled opponent who accused them of being willfully blind, they are now obligated to pay a fraction of the $1 billion the trustee originally sought.

Wilpon and Katz, and their families and businesses, will not have to pay much money, if any, out of pocket. Instead, they will now be eligible to receive up to $178 million from the billions of dollars that the trustee collects from the net winners.

If they get the full recovery within three years, $162 million of it will go to the trustee; if not, Wilpon and Katz are responsible to pay the rest over the fourth and fifth years.

“I guess I can smile now,” Wilpon said. “Maybe I can take a day off.”

“The terms seem too good to be true for Wilpon and Katz,” said Bradley D. Simon, a former federal prosecutor who now focuses on white-collar civil litigation for Simon & Partners. “I certainly consider this a capitulation by the trustee. It seems quite one-sided.”

As Sandomir and Belson correctly point out, the Mets aren’t nearly out of the woods yet.  There’s the not-so-small sum of $400 million owed to various banks, another $40 million owed to Bank Of America and a $25 million loan from MLB dating back to 2010 that’s still owed.  In other words, Bobby Bonilla should cash future checks from Flushing as quickly as possible.