Bobby Bonilla, a former All-Star who last played in 2001, has become an intriguing figure in the world of baseball. Despite retiring over two decades ago, Bonilla still receives an annual paycheck from the New York Mets. This unique arrangement is due to a deferred salary agreement that the Mets decided upon when they bought out Bonilla's remaining contract of $5.9 million.
Every July 1st since 2011, Bonilla has received a little over $1.19 million. These payments will continue until 2035, making Bonilla a symbol of the peculiar financial arrangements that can occur in professional sports.
The Reason Behind the Annual Payments
The reason behind this unusual arrangement lies in the Mets' financial situation at the time, which was tied to Bernie Madoff's infamous Ponzi scheme. The team believed that by deferring payments to Bonilla, they could invest their money more profitably elsewhere. As a result, Bonilla agreed to restructure his five-year, $29 million deal signed in 1991 for an annual payment of $1.2 million, starting in 2011 and ending in 2035.
The MLB Pension Plan
In addition to these unique deferred payment arrangements, retired MLB players also benefit from a generous pension plan. After ten years in the major leagues, players receive an annual pension benefit of $100,000. Even players with less service time can qualify for a minimum $34,000 annual pension plan after playing 43 days in the major leagues.