Why the Mets Pay a 57-Year-Old $1.2M Every July 1

Bobby Bonilla will get that each year through 2035
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 1, 2020 11:29 AM CDT
Why the Mets Pay a 57-Year-Old $1.2M Every July 1
Stock photo.   (Getty Images)

It's a pretty safe bet that July 1 is Bobby Bonilla's favorite day of the year. That's because it's the day on which the New York Mets pay him $1,193,248.20. Bonilla, 57, hasn't picked up a bat since 2001, when he last played for the St. Louis Cardinals, but the Mets will keep paying him that amount every July 1 until 2035—when he's 72. It's a deal that has Bernie Madoff at its nexus. As CNN reports, the Mets were ready to split with him in 1999, which meant buying out the $5.9 million left of his deal. Mets owner Fred Wilpon believed his investments with Madoff were churning out money, so Bonilla's agent secured a deal that would see payments deferred until 2011 with an 8% annual interest rate—the idea being that money would be invested with Madoff in the meantime and earn double-digit returns. Except, of course, it didn't work out that way. Two takes:

  • Dan Mullen, ESPN: "Because of baseball's salary structure, Bonilla's annual payday is often more than some of the game's current stars in a given year. Thanks to the shortened season and prorated salaries for players in 2020, that list has grown even longer."
  • Chris Bumbaca, USA Today: "While Bonilla may best be remembered for these yearly payments among modern baseball fans, the context of his career is important. Coming off four straight All-Star seasons and two consecutive top-three MVP finishes with the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Bronx native became the highest-paid player in a team sport when he signed a five-year, $29.1 million deal with the Mets ahead of the 1992 season."
(More New York Mets stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.