Happy Bobby Bonilla Day!
It’s July 1st! You know what that means: the New York Metropolitans will pay Bobby Bonilla – a player who they cut in 2000 – $1,193,248.20. For folks who are unaware of the exact details, here is what happened, and why the Mets will still be paying a player 35 years after he retired. He will be 72 at the end of his deal.
See, the Mets had Bobby on their roster in 2000 after acquiring him from the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1998 for Mel Rojas, and he was in the final year of his contract that would pay him $5.9 million, but the Mets really didn’t want to pay it, partly because of Bonilla’s declining play but also because of his attitude. Bonilla and manager Bobby Valentine really didn’t get along (although Valentine had that effect on players) and it was reported that during the 1999 National League Championship Series, in which the Mets lost to the Braves in extra innings, Bonilla and teammate Rickey Henderson were playing cards in the clubhouse.
Mets owner Fred Wilpon made a deal with Bonilla and his agent that they would defer Bonilla’s salary for a decade in exchange for the long-term deal that would see the incremental payments over TWENTY-FIVE YEARS! From 2009 through 2035, Bonilla will get his payment of $1,193,248,20. So by waiting ten years, Bonilla will have been paid $29.8 million instead of $5.9 million.
Wilpon thought he was getting a sweet deal, mainly because he had heavily invested with Bernie Madoff in the Ponzi scheme for which Madoff would eventually see prison time. Not a great business plan.
For Bonilla’s part, he had been well-compensated throughout his career. He was one of the top players in baseball, and from 1992-94 he was the top-paid player as well. He made $6 million a year, which now would make him tied for 216th. So he was perfectly happy waiting, sitting on the massive amount of money he had already made through not only his contracts but also his endorsements.
I’d say he made the right choice.