For a lot of MLB players and ex-players, July 1 is a big day. It's the day many signing bonuses and deferred salary payments (or portions thereof) are paid to players. It must be fun checking that huge direct deposit each year, huh?
Bobby Bonilla, a former All-Star who last played baseball in 2001, has become the face of the July 1 payday.
As part of a deferred salary arrangement, the New York Mets have paid Bonilla a little bit more than $1.19 million ($1,193,248.20 to be exact) on each July 1 since 2011. The annual payments will continue until 2035. 2035! Bonilla, now 59, will be 72 when the payments end.
The Mets signed Bonilla to a five-year contract worth $29 million in 1991 that was the richest contract in team sports at the time. He spent the first three-and-a-half seasons of that contract with New York before being traded away. Bonilla won a World Series with the Marlins in 1997 and was later traded back to the Mets as part of Florida's post-championship fire sale.
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The Mets released Bonilla in January 2000 but were still on the hook for his $5.9 million salary that season. Believing they were poised to make a significant profit through their investments with Bernie Madoff, Mets ownership instead agreed to defer Bonilla's salary with 8 percent interest and spread it across 25 years from 2011-35.
Well, the Madoff ponzi scheme fell apart, and Bonilla's $5.9 million swelled to $29.8 million from 2000-11. That $29.8 million divided by 25 years equals the annual $1.19 million payment. CBS Sports created a bobblehead to commemorate Bonilla's annual deferred payments:
After new Mets owner Steve Cohen purchased the franchise in 2020, he suggested that the team could have an annual Bobby Bonilla celebration at the ballpark, complete with an oversized check. That plan, however, doesn't appear like it will be happening in 2022 -- but Cohen did tweet about Bonilla on Friday:
I hope everybody is enjoying my favorite day of the year , Bobby Bonilla Day— Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2) July 1, 2022
Bonilla's deferred salary with the Mets is the most famous July 1 payment in baseball, hands down, Orioles. Baltimore owes him $500,000 a year from 2004-28. July 1 is a good day in the Bonilla household.. In fact, Bonilla himself has a second deferred salary agreement with the
Here are a few other notable deferred salary payment plans:
- The Braves paid Hall of Fame closer Bruce Sutter roughly $1.2 million each year since 1991. Last year was the final year of Sutter's deferred salary plan. However, the team paid him a $9.1 million lump sum on Friday.
- The Reds have paid Ken Griffey Jr. approximately $3.6 million each year since 2009 and will do so through 2024.
- The Red Sox have paid Manny Ramirez approximately $2 million each year since 2011 and will continue to do so through 2026.
- The Mets have paid Bret Saberhagen $250,000 each year since 2004 and will continue to do so through 2028.
The Nationals tend to load up their largest contracts with salary deferrals. They're paying Rafael Soriano roughly $2 million annually through 2024, Max Scherzer -- who now pitches for the NL East rival Mets -- is owed $15 million a year from 2022-28 and Stephen Strasburg has approximately $114 million in deferred salary coming to him through 2029. Not bad work if you can get it.