LOS ANGELES, May 9, 2013 — The New York Yankees owe former All Star third baseman Alex Rodriguez $119 million over the next five seasons. The Anaheim Angels owe Albert Pujols $228 million over the next 9 years. When Pujols is 41, the Angels will be paying him $30 million to most likely be their designated hitter and/or a stay at home dad. Those contracts look fiscally responsible in comparison with what the New York Mets are paying Bobby Bonilla through 2035.
Yes, you read that correctly. Bobby Bonilla will be still collecting paychecks from the Mets until the year 2035, almost a mere 10 years after he is eligible to collect his first Social Security check. Bonilla was released in 2000 by the Mets with $5.9 million owed to him. Instead of just giving Bonilla a sack of greenbacks, the two parties agreed to defer payment until 2011, with interest paid over the span of the next 25 years.
Bobby Bonilla, a career .279 hitter with 287 homeruns and 1,173 RBIs, played 16 seasons for eight different teams, including two stints with the New York Mets. He received a World Series ring in 1997 while playing for the Florida Marlins. He even finished second and third in MVP voting in 1990 and 1991, respectively, and was an All-Star six times.
Bonilla was one third of the “Outfield of Dreams,” along with Barry Bonds and Andy Van Slyke for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He helped the Pirates win three consecutive Eastern Division titles before the Mets made him the highest paid player in baseball from 1992 through 1994.
He even pitched an inning of relief in 2001 for St. Louis and gave up a homerun. Bonilla retired at the age of 38 after the 2001 season, playing in just 93 games for the Cardinals.
The Mets owe Bobby Bonilla $1,193,248.20 every year through 2035, which brings that total to a staggering $29,831,205. Bonilla will be 72 years old when he receives his final installment. Why would the Mets opt to pay over $29 million instead of just giving him the $5.9 million lump sum?
Hint: Because they’re the Mets
According to an ESPN article, the Mets Brain Trust decided to put that $5.9 million into an investment account that was supposed to have a return of 18% annually. Of that 18%, only 8% would be needed to pay Bonilla and the rest, they thought, would be pure delicious profit. The Mets thought they were the smartest guys in the room. Nothing could possibly go wrong! Top of the world, ma!
Remember that nothing could possibly go wrong, right? New York Mets, meet Murphy’s Law. You two are just going to be the best of friends. It turns out that investment account was with the infamous Bernie Madoff. Yes, that Bernie Madoff. As everyone now knows, Madoff turned out to be running a gigantic Ponzi scheme which ruined people’s lives and personal fortunes. Whoops. The Mets were just one of many who were left holding the proverbial bag and Bonilla was made to look like some sort of financial wizard. The Mets never suspected that anything could go wrong.
Bobby Bonilla will make more than all but nine roster members of the 2013 Mets. Jason Bay, who now plays in Seattle, and Bonilla are the two highest paid outfielders by the Mets this season. Bay is making $18.125 million to not play for the Mets.
In addition to collecting from the Mets, he currently spends his retirement hours working part-time with current Major League players, advising on ways to preserve their money. Bobby Bonilla cares not for the Mets’ financial troubles. From Bonilla’s standpoint, he is probably thinking, “You wanted to get rid of me? Pay me. You want to defer payment? Pay me. You got into a bind and lost the investment you were going to use on my deferred payments? Pay me.”
Dr. James Ryan and Dr. Steven L. Adler of the Wells On Baseball think tank also contributed to this story.
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