Baseball World (Minus Mets) Celebrate ‘Bobby Bonilla Day’
It's Bobby Bonilla Day, also known as the day where the Mets pay more than a million dollars to a player that hasn't taken the field since the Clinton administration.
It's a sad, sad day for the New York Mets, and a chuckle-inducing event for the rest of the league.
Long story short: The Mets are contractually obligated to pay former MLB All-Star Bobby Bonilla a cool $1,193,248.20 every July 1, and will have to do so until 2035, when Bonilla will be 72 years old.
Essentially, the Mets had played with the Mets from 1992-1995 after several successful campaigns with the Pirates. The Mets traded him away in the 1995 season, and he eventually found his way to the Marlins, where he helped them win their first World Series title.
That's when the Mets decided to bring Bonilla back via trade. From there, things got weird.
Bonilla's play was not great, so he was released in 1999, which would require the Mets to pay a $5.6 million buyout. However, the two sides reached a deal. Instead of paying the buyout, the Mets would instead pay Bonilla approximately $1.2 million annually each July 1 from 2011 to 2035.
Why would the Mets accept paying Bonilla six times what he was owed in the buyout? According to a New York Times report, Mets owner Fred Wilpon was apparently caught up in the ponzi scheme of Bernie Madoff. Yes, that Bernie Madoff.
Wilpon thought that the money he saved by the deferred payment would make him far more in the long run than he would be shelling out each year to Bonilla. However, the Bernie Madoff situation ended up being a lot more than Wilpon bargained for, and that fortune didn't materialize.
To be fair, assuming Madoff didn't end up being a fraud, this wasn't the worst deal. Everything made sense on paper. Wilpon just got caught up in a scheme from one of the most well-known con artists of all time.
Bobby Bonilla now is comletely set for life despite not playing a game of pro baseball since 2001.
Bonilla's agent better be getting a sizeable cut of that.
[via USA Today, New York Times, The Guardian]