July 1 marks an annual tradition here on CBS Sports' Eye on Baseball. The tradition is celebrating perhaps the best -- at least most entertaining -- contract deferral in Major League Baseball history.
Today is the day that Bobby Bonilla gets his annual check for $1,193,248.20 from the New York Mets, just as he will every single year through 2035.
To catch everyone up, here's the how and why:
The deal was signed by the Marlins in 1996, but Bonilla was traded to the Dodgers in the 1998 blockbuster that involved Gary Sheffield and Mike Piazza. Bonilla was later flipped to the Mets. He then only played 60 games in 1999, hitting .160/.277/.303, so the Mets saw fit to get rid of him before the 2000 season instead of paying him $5.9 million that year.
In buying out Bonilla before 2000, the Mets triggered a deferral that paid Bonilla the above figure annually from 2010-2035. Call it one of the more fun pensions you'll ever see. It inspired perhaps our best ever entry into the Bobblehead Project:
We should point out that we aren't really mocking the Mets here. Not only is their current regime an entirely different front office from the one that signed this deal, but there are deferrals in place for current players (such as Max Scherzer), and less than $1.2 million per year isn't really all that much money to MLB teams these days.
This is just such a great story that we'll still be telling it in 2035.
Congrats, Bobby Bo, on yet another check day!