Every year on July 1, it is Bobby Bonilla Day. A result of one of the most insane deals in the history of Major League Baseball.
Bobby Bonilla was an outfielder who started his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. Together with Barry Bonds he was part of the Killer Bees, a nickname given by the fans because the two were dangerous sluggers.
But the slugger did not break into the Majors with the Pirates. The White Sox picked him in the 1985 Rule-5 draft. At the start of the 1986 season Bonilla made his MLB debut. But Bonilla was unhappy with the White Sox so he was traded back to the Pirates.
From 1986 through 1991 Bonilla had a .284 BA with 868 hits, 191 doubles, 114 home runs and 500 RBI.
After his contract with the Pirates expired after the 1991 season, Bonilla became a free agent. In the off season he signed a 5-year 29-million dollar deal that made him the highest paid player at the time. But Bonilla did not live up to the expectations. Also, he did not have a good relationship with the New York press.
In 1995 he was traded to the Orioles and helped them to reach the 1996 ALCS. After the 1996 season he became Free agent again and signed with the Florida Marlins with whom he won the 1997 World Series. In the 1998 fire sale, Bonilla, together with four players, was traded to the Dodgers. But with the Dodgers he underperformed as well. Eventually, the Mets reacquired Bonilla in a trade in the 1998 off season.
After another sub par season, the Mets released Bonilla, still owing him 5.9 million dollars. And that is where the crazy deal comes around the corner.
Bonilla’s agent, Dennis Gilbert hammered out a deal with the Mets. Gilbert, was an insurance agent at the same time and he developed into a superagent (Gilbert’s clients included Bonilla, Barry Bonds, Jose Canseco and Danny Tartabull).
So the Mets owed Bonilla $5.9 million for the 2000 season and no longer wanted him. The club negotiated with Gilbert to attach an 8 percent annual interest rate to that money. With the clock starting in 2000, that adds up to $29.8 million. The first payment came on July 1, 2011, and the Mets will pay their seventh installment today.
The payments will continue until 2035. The yearly amount? $1,193,248.20. That’s easy money or what?
So, happy Bobby Bonilla Day!