Bobby Bonilla And Jason Bay Are Highest Paid Mets Outfielders

Do you realize the two highest paid Mets outfielders are players no longer with the team?

That’s right; Jason Bay and Bobby Bonilla will make more this year than the Mets’ current outfield of Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Mike Baxter, Collin Cowgill and Marlon Byrd.

BONILLA: Will be cashing Mets checks for a long time.

BONILLA: Will be cashing Mets checks for a long time.

The Mets made both decisions to get out of bad situations and maintain cost certainty, but in this case it came back to bite them. The first thing a financial advisor tells you is previous success is not a guarantee of future success. The Mets didn’t consider that advice.

Add the $3 million buyout to what the Mets owed Bay (including interest) and it comes to $21 million, paid out in a lump sum and deferred payments over the next several years. The deal also made Bay a free agent and he signed with Seattle. That gave Bay the chance to collect from two teams. Nice deal for him.

The Mets liked the arrangement because the Bay signing was a bust and this freed money for GM Sandy Alderson.

As for Bonilla, the Mets wanted to release him prior to the 2000 season, but didn’t want to eat the $5.9 million on his contract. Instead, the Mets agreed to a 25-year, $29.8 million deferred plan that pays Bonilla nearly $1.2 million annually. Including his pension, income from the Players Association and whatever investments he owns, Bonilla has a great retirement package. Oh, I forgot, there’s also social security.

It turned out to be a horrible deal for the Mets, but at the time they thought they could afford it because they put the original $5.9 million into an investment account with Bernie Madoff, who promised an 18 percent return. The money to pay Bonilla was to come out of that Madoff account and the Mets figured a return of almost $50 million. Being businessmen, they should have realized there can’t be a guaranteed return of any amount, let alone $18 percent.

Naturally, that won’t happen now. What will happen is the Mets remain obligated to write Bonilla a check until 2035. Naturally, hindsight says the Mets should have released Bonilla and taken the salary hit, but hindsight is always 20/20.

Smart moves by Bonilla and Bay, and also Bret Saberhagen, who gets $250,000 annually until 2029.

The Mets are also on the hook for $15 million for deferred payments to David Wright. They have no such arrangement with Johan Santana. There’s currently no thought to release Santana and defer what is left on his contract, which is $25.5 million for this year plus a $5.5 million buyout.

There’s always an element of risk with any long-term contract, but more when part of it is deferred. As it turned out, the Mets outsmarted themselves.




3 thoughts on “Bobby Bonilla And Jason Bay Are Highest Paid Mets Outfielders

  1. Wow. I keep forgetting about Bonilla.

    This article reminds me again how stupid Fred is.

    Really? They believed they could get an 18% return every year for 30 years? I don’t know how they made their money.

    What is that saying? A fool and his money are soon separated..

  2. That’s what the Mets do: get services now and pay the bulk of the contract later. Fred and Jeff were counting on Madoff money to turn that $5+ million into more than the $30+ million Bonilla would get down the road, thereby paying him off and keeping a nice little profit for themselves. Bonilla was going through a divorce at the time and figured he’d need extra cash once he was long gone from baseball. As usual, the victims here are the fans because they’re paying for players that didn’t pan out yet are owed boatloads of cash for years to come. Ugh.

    • Kathy C: Thanks for dropping by. Hope to see you again. It seemed like a good idea at the time for both parties. But, if it seems too good to be true it usually is.-JD