Every year on July 1st, baseball fans turn their attention to a unique financial arrangement known as Bobby Bonilla Day. This day marks the annual payment of $1.19 Million to retired MLB star Bobby Bonilla by his former franchise, the New York Mets.
While Bonilla isn’t the only ex-MLB star to receive payments from former franchises on this day, the day is known by his name due to his immense popularity during his playing career.
Let’s dive into the story behind Bobby Bonilla Day while also exploring the intriguing world of baseball finances.
Who is Bobby Bonilla?
He was an ex-MLB star who started off his great career at the ‘Pittsburgh Pirates’ in 1986 before signing a fruitful long-term contract with the ‘New York Mets’ in 1992, making him one of the highest-paid players. Before drawing the curtains on his extravagant career in 1999, Bonilla played for several other teams before returning to the Mets for one last season.
Despite becoming a household name during his playing career, Bonilla won the World Series only once, in 1997 with the Miami Marlins.
Why does Bonilla get paid even after retirement?
At the turn of the century, the Mets offered to pay out the remainder of Bonilla’s contract, which, at the time, was worth $5.9 Million. However, instead of going the traditional way and paying the amount at once, the Mets opted for a deferred payment basis. This meant that the Mets were to pay Bonilla $1.2 Million yearly, along with an 8% interest rate from 2011 till 2035.
Also Read: 10 Highest-Paid Baseball Players in The World 2023
Why did the Mets make this arrangement?
The New York Mets were invested in a Bernie Madoff account which promised double-digit returns. The decision was made by management to invest more into the account and pay off their employees, such as Bonilla, on a deferred basis.
The team expected to generate substantial returns from the investments and planned to use those to cover Bonilla’s deal. Unfortunately for them, the account didn’t provide the returns it promised.
The Mets felt this plan would end up being lucrative for them as it allowed the Mets a certain amount of financial flexibility and stability to build their franchise while simultaneously honoring Bonilla’s deal.
Is this sort of arrangement common in baseball?
Well, yes. A deferred payment system is not something new in the world of baseball. Teams such as the Boston Red Sox, New York Mets, Baltimore Orioles, and Washington Nationals have been using this method over the years to attain a level of financial stability.
Many of the retired players earn more through this payment method than the current young stars of the league do with the new payment structure.
Which other players benefit from such type of a payment system?
Although the MLB pays their current stars pretty well, it isn’t as good as what the retired players earn through the deferred payment system. Here are some other players who still collect their annual paychecks from former teams:
- Bret Saberhagen: Collects $250,000 yearly from the Mets from 2004 til 2029.
- Manny Ramirez: The Boston Red Sox has to pay him a total of $24.2 Million till 2026.
- Max Scherzer: Set to receive annual payments worth a grand total of $105 Million before 2028 from the Washington Nationals.