July 1 is Bobby Bonilla Day: Why the Mets are still on the hook for $1.19 million until he's 72 years old

Monday is July 1, which means it's Bobby Bonilla Day. 

Bonilla, 56, has not played a MLB game since 2001. His last game as a Met was in the fall of 1999. Yet on July 1 every year, from now until 2035, Bonilla is paid approximately $1.9 million by the New York Mets. The Mets have been cutting this large check since 2011, and this marks Bonilla's ninth annual payment.

Let's take a look at why the Mets are still on the hook for writing a check to a player that has not been on the roster for two decades:

Bonilla first joined the Mets in 1991 as a free agent, signing a five-year, $29 million contract that, at the time, made him the highest-paid player in team sports. The Mets traded him to the Orioles on the final year of his five-year deal in 1996 before he hit the free agent market again and signed with the Marlins in 1997. He rejoined the Mets in 1999 via trade after a couple of season with the Dodgers following the Marlins' sell-off in 1998. The Mets released Bonilla in January 2000 even though they still owed him $5.9 million in salary. Rather than accept the $5.9 million up front, Bonilla agreed to defer the money in exchange for 8 percent interest. 

In 2011 -- the first year Bonilla was paid under the deferment agreement -- the $5.9 million had grown to $29.8 million. Spread that $29.8 million across 25 years from 2011-35 and you get that $1,193,248.20 annual payment.

Bonilla is 56 years old, so when he receives his final payment from the Mets in 2035, he'll be 72. CBS Sports created a bobblehead to immortalize Bonilla's annual deferment payments:

bobbybonillabobble.jpg
Look at the baseballs on the bottom of the walker! Jarod Valentin, CBS Sports

In baseball, deferred-money deals are not uncommon at all. There are plenty of players receive deferred payments. Former Boston Red Sox outfielder Manny Ramirez even agreed to a deferment contract, where the Red Sox owe him $31 million dollars through 2027.

There are not many others who have been able to cut a deal like Bonilla's, and it's especially noteworthy since his time in New York was ultimately disappointing and even tumultuous at times. Bonilla will bank an extra $23.9 million through interest by waiting a decade for his first payment.

Katherine Acquavella joined CBS Sports in 2018. Her work has appeared in Yankees Magazine and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum's Memories and Dreams magazine. She is a graduate of St. John's... Full Bio

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