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First of July Means Bobby Bonilla Gets Paid… Again

 Matt Tallarini - World Baseball Network  |    Jul 1st, 2024 8:00pm EDT

Former Major League Baseball player Bobby Bonilla is still getting paid by the New York Mets after not playing since the 2001 regular season.  

Bonilla receives $1,193,248.20 every July 1 and will be paid on the same date every year until 2035, when he will be 72 years old.  

When the organization in Flushing wanted to release Bonilla after the 1999 season, he negotiated a settlement under which the Mets would have to pay him $1.19 million on July 1 of each year from 2011 through 2035.  

Bonilla, 61, was born in The Bronx, N.Y., and played 16 seasons in the MLB with the Chicago White Sox in 1986, the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1986-91, the New York Mets from 1992-95 and in 1999, the Baltimore Orioles from 1995-96, the Florida Marlins from 1997-98, the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1998, the Atlanta Braves in 2000, and the St. Louis Cardinals in 2001.  

He was a six-time All-Star from 1988-91, 1993, and 1995, and he won a World Series with Florida in 1997. He was also a three-time Silver Slugger Award winner in 1988, 1990, and 1991. 

With MLB’s salary structure, Bonilla’s annual payday is often more than some of the game’s young players will make in a given year.  

During this past offseason, Shohei Ohtani opted for a structure of his contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers that will delay payments for $680 million of his $700 million megadeal due to deferring money becoming a critical action across the MLB.  

Ohtani will receive $68 million annually in 2034 as part of his contract in Chavez Ravine.  

Before Bonilla signed with Atlanta in 2000, the Mets agreed to buy out the remainder of his contract for $5.9 million.  

Instead of the Mets paying Bonilla $5.9 million during that time frame, the franchise agreed to make annual payments of nearly $1.2 million for 25 years, starting on July 1, 2011, including a negotiated 8% interest. 

At the time, Mets owner Fred Wilpon accepted the deal because he was involved with a Ponzi scheme operated by financial criminal Bernie Madoff.  

The 10 percent returns Madoff thought he was getting on his investments outweighed the eight percent interest the Mets would pay Bonilla on his initial $5.9 million.  

This resulted in a payout that was a subject of inquiry during the Madoff investment scandal investigation when it came out in the open in 2008.  

 Bonilla also has a second deferred-contract plan with the Mets and Baltimore Orioles, initiated in 2004, that will pay him $500,000 a year until 2029.  

Bonilla, in his 16 seasons in the MLB, played in 2,113 games and batted .279 with 8,257 plate appearances, dialing 2,010 hits, 408 doubles, 61 triples, 287 home runs, 1,173 RBI, 45 stolen bases, 912 walks, 1,204 strikeouts, and a .829 OPS.  

Notable Former and Current MLB Players That Are Still Being Paid, According To ESPN MLB Editor Dan Mullen:  

  • Bret Saberhagen will receive $250,000 a year from the Mets for 25 years (payments began in 2004, which inspired Bonilla’s deal).
  • Max Scherzer will receive $105 million total from the Nationals that will be paid out through 2028.
  • Manny Ramírez will collect $24.2 million from the Red Sox through 2026.
  • Ken Griffey Jr. will receive $3.59 million from the Reds annually through 2024 as the deferral from his nine-year, $116 million deal signed in 2000.
  • Chris Davis’s arrangement with the Orioles might make him the new Bonilla, as he collects $59 million in deferred payments during a 15-year stretch that started last year and continues through 2037. Davis will receive $9.16 million in 2024 and 2025, $3.5 million from 2026 to 2032, and $1.4 million from 2033 to 2037.

Photo Credit: Bobby Bonilla #24 of the New York Mets before a baseball game on April15, 1992 at Shea Stadium in New York, New York. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

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Matt Tallarini - World Baseball Network
Matthew (Matt) Tallarini is the Founder and Chief Correspondent for the World Baseball Network.