The New York Mets will pay a 52-year-old former third basemen, who hasn’t taken a hack in Major League Baseball in over a decade, more its promising young talents like Matt Harvey, Juan Lagares and Jacob deGrom.
While the latter three will try to push the Mets into the playoffs for the first time since 2006, the 52-year-old might not step foot inside Citi Field all season. Yet, he will receive a salary greater than half of the Mets 25-man roster.
Some athletes go broke when they retire from professional sports, but Bobby Bonilla will not be one of them.
Ringing up a price tag of nearly $1.19 million, Bonilla will collect for the fifth consecutive season because of the decision the Mets made in 2000 to buyout its embattled, unproductive slugger. Instead of owing him $5.9 million that year, the organization chose to defer his contract. After negotiating an 8 percent interest increase, Bonilla’s 25 installments will total $29.8 million.
He started receiving payments in 2011. Bonilla collects each year on July 1 and will continue to do so every year until 2035.
The Mets originally made the deal because the team’s owner, Fred Wilpon, was deeply invested in a sure-fire returns Wall Street investor who guaranteed 10 percent, making financial sense of giving Bonilla two percent fewer because the team would take in $60-$70 million on returns while promising to only payout $29.4 million, netting a sizeable profit. But, a certain Bernie Madoff ran that sure-fire hedge fund. And, well, we all know how that turned out.
Wilpon himself, it is estimated, lost nearly $700 million in the Madoff scheme and was nearly forced to sell-off 50 percent of the team in 2011 to billionaire David Einhorn, who also ran a hedge fund (though probably more legit). However, thanks to the saving graces of MLB and Bank of America, Wilpon rescued himself and can continue to pay Bonilla.
You can’t blame the Mets for wanting to cut Bonilla loose, either.
Yes, in his prime Bonilla slugged 24 round-trippers while getting on base at a .366 clip with 100 RBI. But, at the same time, Bonilla and teammate Ricky Henderson were found to be playing cards in the clubhouse as their 1999 Mets team was polished off in the playoffs in an eleven inning game against the Atlanta Braves in Game Six of the National League Championship Series.
Bad ink ran in the newspaper and Bonilla seemed baffled in the batter’s box. He hit .160 and drove in 18 runs in his 60 games with the Mets that season.
Even though that is his lasting mark on Mets faithful, every July 1 fans wake up, go to the ballpark and wish each other a Happy Bonilla Day!
Only after, of course, putting a check in the mail for $1.19 million.
Sam Fortier is a displaced New Englander living in New York as a freshman at Syracuse University. He likes baseball, crunchy peanut butter and using the word “wicked” as an adjective. He’s not a fan of purposefully misspelt business names (“Kathy’s Kut & Kurl”) or grammatical error’s. You can read him here every Monday, follow him on Twitter @Sam4TR, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.