Thanks to a deferred buyout, the New York Mets owed former Mets underachieving player Bobby Bonilla $1.2 million on July 1. Yes, Bonilla, who hasn’t swung a bat in over a decade is still on the Mets’ payroll, and will be on there until 2035.
Bonilla has a nice life, right?
The Mets signed Bonilla to a lucrative deal in 1991, but due to controversy and unmet expectations, he was traded to Baltimore in 1995. He then signed with the Marlins in 1996 for $23.3 million but was traded to the Dodgers in 1998. The Mets then re-acquired him that following offseason, and his short-lived second tenure with the Mets was just as awful.
The Mets had enough, and instead of paying Bonilla the $5.9 million the Mets owed him in the 2000 season, they decided to get rid of him and thought it would be better to give him 25 payments of $1.2 million starting 2011, totaling $29.8 million. Why? Well, because he was a big disappointment. In his 1999 season (with one year left in his contract), Bonilla averaged just a .160 batting average with four homeruns and 18 RBIs.
By postponing their payments for 11 years, the Mets freed enough money to trade for starting pitched Mike Hampton, outfielder Derek Bell and first baseman Todd Zeil—these three earned $15 million in 2000—and with these three players on the roster, the Mets reached the World Series for the first time since their 1986 season.
Unfortunately for the Mets, though, they reached the playoffs just one more time after that. So was the short-term gain worth the long-term cost?