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Bobby Bonilla's Career Earnings, Future Contract Payments from Mets

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJuly 1, 2020

8 Mar 1999:  Outfielder Bobby Bonilla #25 of the New York Mets in action during the Spring Training game against the Montreal Expos at the Thomas J. White Stadium in Port St. Lucie, Florida. The Mets defeated the Expos 2-1.
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

It has been 21 years since Bobby Bonilla last played a game for the New York Mets, but for the 10th year in a row, he is set to receive a hefty check from his former team.

July 1 is known to many in the baseball world as Bobby Bonilla Day, as the Mets pay the six-time MLB All-Star $1.19 million on that date every year:

ESPN @espn

It's July 1. That means the Mets will pay Bobby Bonilla another installment of $1.19M today. He hasn't played in the majors since 2001, but he will be paid through 2035 ... when he'll be 72 🤯 https://t.co/9bZppgAp0B

As explained by ESPN's Dan Mullen, the Bobby Bonilla Day sensation originated in 2000 when the Mets bought out the remaining $5.9 million on Bonilla's contract. Rather than paying him that money up front, however, the Mets agreed to defer it into an annual payment of $1.19 million beginning in 2011 and ending in 2035.

While it seems like a bizarre decision on the Mets' part, Mullen noted the Mets were invested in a Bernie Madoff account at the time that promised double-digit returns and would have made the organization big money. But Madoff was convicted of fraud and money laundering in 2009 and is serving a 150-year prison sentence.

Now, the Mets are stuck paying the 57-year-old Bonilla through 2035, when he will be 72 years of age. By the time the deferred payments stop, he will have made about $30 million on those payments alone.

When taking the regular contracts Bonilla played under during his 16-year MLB career into account plus deferred payments he has received thus far from the Mets and the Baltimore Orioles (in a separate agreement), he has made nearly $67 million as a result of playing baseball, per Spotrac.

Bonilla had a great career. He was a three-time Silver Slugger Award winner in addition to his six All-Star nods, and he won the 1997 World Series with the Florida Marlins. Bonilla also played for the Chicago White Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates, Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals aside from the Mets, Marlins and Orioles.

He first played for the Mets from 1992 to 1995 and found success in the Big Apple, making the All-Star team twice during his tenure. The Mets reacquired Bonilla in a trade with the Dodgers prior to the 1999 season, which turned out to be a disastrous decision for the franchise.

Bonilla turned in the worst performance of his career in 1999, hitting .160 with four home runs and 18 RBI in 60 games. Now, the Mets are on the hook for $17.85 million in additional payments over the next 15 years.

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