The Baseball Player Who Is a Multi-Millionaire Thanks To Deferred Contracts

On July 1, former New York Mets third baseman Bobby Bonilla became a millionaire…….again. That’s because every July 1, the New York Mets pay him $1.19 million as part of a deferred payment arrangement that lasts until 2035. When the final payment is made, Bonilla will be 72. The deal started in 1991, when the Mets signed Bonilla to a 5-year deal that was worth $29 million — the richest contract in professional sports at the time. Bonilla spent the first 3½ seasons of the contract with the Mets before being traded to the Florida Martins. The veteran was traded back to the Mets when the Marlins tore down their 1997 World Series squad. Bonilla ended up being released in January 2000, but still had to be paid his $5.9 million salary for that season. At the time, New York believed that they were going to make a significant profit from the team’s investments with Bernie Madoff, so Mets ownership deferred Bonilla’s salary with 8% interest and ended up spreading it across 25 years from 2011 to 2035. Of course, we all know how the Mets’ investment with Bernie Madoff turned out. As a result, the deferred payments ended up totaling $29.8 million. Spread out over 25 years, that’s $1.19 million annually. Bonilla is estimated to have a net worth of $20 million as of 2021.