When the calendar flips to July 1 for most MLB fans, their focus is on Independence Day, an important time in this country’s history that is celebrated with food, drink, fun and a little bit of baseball as the cherry on top. A moment in summer where everyone realizes it’s almost time for the All-Star Game.
But for New York Mets fans and Bobby Bonilla, July 1 is one of the most notorious days in baseball history documenting the short relationship between this MLBbro financial genius and the franchise. Over the past weekend the calendar hit July 1, meaning the New York Mets deposited a check totaling $1,193,248.20 into Bobby Bo’s bank account. It’s a financial transaction that started in 2011 and will continue until 2035. When this business arrangement ends, our MLBbro Icon will be 72 years of age.
July 1 is better known as “Bobby Bonilla Day”. While many look at this day as a running inside joke for fans, the story behind this infamous deal is better than a three paragraph explanation crunching the numbers. For the record here they are.
- In 2000, the New York Mets decided to buy out Bonilla for the sum of $5.9 million that was left on the contract.
- Instead of paying immediately, then Mets owner, Fred Wilpon and Bonilla’s agent, Dennis Gilbert negotiated a deal to pay nearly $1.2 million with eight percent interest spanning 25 years.
- Then the Mets would use the money to create an annuity investing in securities that would theoretically pay back handsomely in annual dividends. Not only that, but this practice also provided flexibility on the payroll to sign other players without levied taxes. (Also read: A loophole in the MLB by-laws).
- All told, Bonilla’s decision to defer the total amount spread out over two decades of payments with an annual interest rate of eight percent compounded adds up to close to $30 million when he turns 72.
- As of 2023, this MLBbro financial genius earns more by not playing the game of baseball than 11 of the 34 Mets currently on the main roster do playing.
Back to Mets. This might have been shrewd business had the man handling the investment not been Bernie Madoff, who was convicted for running the biggest Ponzi scheme in history and is currently serving a 150-year sentence. After realizing that money was gone and the Bonilla’s money train had left the station, the Mets and Wilpon were financially hamstrung until Steve Cohen bought the team in 2020.
Wild story huh?
Only, that’s not the end. The Mets annual payouts are not the only part to Bobby Bonilla’s humongous windfall. The Baltimore Orioles have a similar financial arrangement with Bonilla and have to pay him $500,000 a year for 25 years. That deal started in 2004.
But he’s not the only MLBbro Icon to invest wisely and defer payments on his contract.
Ken Griffey Jr.
“The Kid” definitely handled his negotiations like an adult when he decided to defer half of his $116 million deal over nine years with the Cincinnati Reds. For the Reds, it allowed flexibility at the time to build the roster while Griffey Jr. was setting up his portfolio with a steady check after retirement. In a deal that started in 2009 and concludes in 2024, the Reds pay our MLBbro Icon $3.59 million. Oh, by the way, that money was compounded at four percent interest.
Do you think deferred contracts are a thing of the past? Oh, there is a current MLBbro player that decided to join the deferment financial plan.
According to USA Today, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts deferred $115 of his 12-year, $365 million deal. Unlike the aforementioned players, Betts doesn’t have the advantage of having compounded interest in his deal.
Sadly, Bobby Bonilla will be known for his own day for the next 13 years as opposed to being a great player. Just look at the resume…
- Six All-Star Game appearances.
- Three Silver Slugger Awards.
- He combined with the great Barry Bonds to become one of the greatest one-two offensive punches in Pittsburgh Pirates history.
- A key member of the Miami Marlins franchise’s first World Series title team in 1997.
Happy Bonilla Day to Bobby Bonilla and the New York Mets fan base from MLBbro.com