What is Bobby Bonilla Day? Explaining why the former Met gets paid $1.19M every July 1

The calendar has moved to July 1st, and that means one thing: it’s time for Mets fans everywhere to wish each other a Happy Bobby Bonilla Day! Why? On Friday, 59-year-old Bobby Bonilla will accept a check for $1,193,248.20 from the New York Mets, as he did and will do every July 1 from 2011 through 2035.

Because of baseball’s salary structure, Bonilla’s annual payday is often higher than some of the game’s current young stars in any given year — and this season, that even includes the salary of one of the sport’s biggest hitters and some potential 2022 All-Stars.

But the Mets aren’t the only ones dishing out deferred payments to star players long after they last championed the team, with former MVPs and Cy Young winners among notable names still receiving annual paychecks from their former ones received by employers.

Here’s everything you need to know about Bonilla’s payday, deferred money in the MLB and the current players making less for the 2022 season than Bobby Bo will receive from the Mets on Friday.

So why is Bonilla getting this payday?

In 2000, the Mets agreed to buy out the remaining $5.9 million in Bonilla’s contract.

However, instead of paying Bonilla the then $5.9 million, the Mets agreed to make nearly $1.2 million in annual payments for 25 years beginning July 1, 2011, including a negotiated 8 percent equity interest .

At the time, Mets ownership was invested in a Bernie Madoff account promising double-digit returns, and the Mets were poised to make a substantial profit if the Madoff account delivered — but that didn’t work out.

Under new owner Steve Cohen, who mentioned the possibility Celebrating Bonilla at Citi Field annually shortly after the team’s acquisition, the Mets welcome Bonillas Day.

How rare is this arrangement?

Bonilla last played for the Mets in 1999 and last in the majors for the Cardinals in 2001, but he will be paid until 2035 (when he will be 72 years old).

Here are some other notable deferred-money contracts, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information’s Ryan Milowicki:

• Bobby Bonilla (again): A deferred second plan with the Mets and Orioles will pay him $500,000 a year for 25 years. These payments started in 2004.

• Bret Saberhagen: Will receive $250,000 annually from the Mets for 25 years (payments also began in 2004; this inspired Bonilla’s deal).

• Max Scherzer: Receives a total of $105 million from the Nationals, to be paid through 2028.

• Manny Ramírez: Will raise a total of $24.2 million from the Red Sox through 2026.

• Ken Griffey Jr.: Will receive $3.59 million each year through 2024 from the Reds as a moratorium on his nine-year, $116 million contract signed in 2000.

• Todd Helton: Will receive $1.3 million each year from the Rockies through 2023, as $13 million was deferred when he signed a two-year extension in 2010.

How this compares to 2022 salaries

Because baseball’s salary structure encourages young players to start their careers with just over half of Bonilla’s annual $1.19 million, here are some notable players who will earn less than Bonilla this season, listed by their WAR total in 2022:

• Tommy Edman (4.3 WAR): $722,000

• Jordan Alvarez (3.7 WAR): $764,000

• Kyle Tucker (3.7 WAR): $764,000

• Alejandro Kirk (3.3 WAR): $714,000

• Tony Gonsolin (3.2 WAR): $720,000

• Alek Manoah (3.1 WAR): $730,000

• France (3.0 WAR): $734,000

• Andres Gimenez (3.0 WAR): $706,000

• Jeremy Pena (2.9 WAR): $700,000

• Julio Rodriguez (2.9 WAR): $700,000

Figures from ESPN Stats & Information were used in this story.

https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/34168816/what-bobby-bonilla-day-explaining-why-former-met-gets-paid-119m-every-july-1 What is Bobby Bonilla Day? Explaining why the former Met gets paid $1.19M every July 1

Emma Bowman

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