Happy Bobby Bonilla Day!

It’s July 1st. That means Bobby Bonilla gets to collect $1.2M from the Mets, as he has every July 1st since 2011…and will every July 1st until 2035. Less famously, he also collects $500k per year from the Mets and Orioles (not sure of which team pays which percentage) since 2004, until 2029. That’s $1.7M every year, and he hasn’t played since 2001. Fun game: Bobby Bonilla makes more money every year than (insert favorite prearbitration eligible player here).

Bobby Bonilla hasn’t played for the Mets since 1999. So why will they still be paying him when he’s 72? In 2000 they owed him $5.9M for the remainder of his contract. The Wilpons, then owners of the Mets of course, decided it would be a good idea to buy that out by deferring payment until 2011 but then paying the aforementioned $1.2M every year for 25 years. These are the same Wilpons who were paying heavily into Bernie Madoff’s “investment fund,” not realizing until way too late that it was actually a Ponzi scheme. That deal with Bonilla has ensured the Wilpons will be affecting the Mets for another 14 years even though they no longer own the Mets.
The new owner, Steve Cohen, has decided to have some fun with it. This year, the Mets are letting some folks stay at Citi Field via Airbnb for $250/night as part of a Bobby Bonilla promotion, as one example. Steve Cohen is smarter than the Wilpons.

Bobby Bonilla himself states he gets more texts and letters on this date every year than any other, including his birthday.

3 thoughts on “Happy Bobby Bonilla Day!

  1. I don’t want to defend the Wilpon family. But…

    At the time of the Bonilla deal, they made a calculation: if they pay Bonilla they have less cash to pay other players. If they defer Bonilla, can they make up the difference through the investment they have? The answers were yes and yes, and they did get other players; and given the growth rate they thought they were making on Madoff, the cost of the deferred payment was covered.

    One more item: Fred took control of the Mets (after owning 1% for years as a bragging point) in two transactions, The first was $81 million total with Wilpon totaling 50% ownership. The second was $391 million to take full ownership, in 2002. In 2020 Steve Cohen buys the team for 2.4 billion dollars. That gets a return of five times the price paid in 18 years, and of course the complaint about Wilpon was that he took profit from the Mets to hold up other business, rather than reinvesting in the team, so the gain is even higher.

    There is no denying he got scammed. No denying he took from the Mets money he might otherwise have spent improving the team. That makes him a victim, and astute at setting priority where it needed to be.


    1. I acknowledge your points, and will add that Bonilla is certainly not the only player getting deferred payments…just the most famous due to its length and size.


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