Bobby Bonilla retired from baseball in 2001. Yet, today — like every July 1 since 2011 and every one until 2035 — he will receive a sweet $1.19 million from the New York Mets, a team he hasn’t played for in 20 years.
Happy Bobby Bonilla Day, everyone!
Bonilla was a a six-time All Star and three-time Silver Slugger who won the World Series with the then-Florida Marlins in 1997. But there’s likely a generation of baseball fans out there now who only know him as the deferred money guy.
Bonilla played for nine different teams during his 16-year MLB career, including a portion of the 1998 season with the Dodgers as part of the Mike Piazza trade. He was then dealt to the Mets, who decided to release him after a lackluster 1999 season. One problem: They still owed him $5.9 million for the next season.
The two sides agreed to defer that payment for 10 years, but with an 8% annual interest rate. So by the time Bonilla started receiving those payments, he was owed $29.8 million, which was split into annual payments of $1,193,248.20 over 25 years.
Of course, there have been similarly outrageous deals over the years. The Washington Nationals have kind of made deferments their thing — they will pay Stephen Strasburg $10 million each year from 2024-30 and Max Scherzer $15 million each year from 2022-28.
But by the time the Nationals are done paying the two pitchers a total of $25 million, the Mets will still have Bonilla on their payroll for five more years.
So once again, happy Bobby Bonilla Day! May each and every one of you somehow talk your bosses into cutting a similar deal for you.