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New York Mets: Sunk or an Opportunity?

Bobby Bonilla hasn’t played for the New York Mets since 1999 but in 2010 they will play him over  a million dollars.  The team will continue to pay Bonilla over $1 million a year each of the next 24 seasons.  In 2035, at the ripe old age of 72,  he will recieve his last check for $1.2 million.

How did this happen?

After a disappointing season in 1999, the Mets owed Bonilla $5.9 million for the final year of his contract.  They restructured the deal and deferred that amount until 2011 (with a compounded interest rate of 8 percent) .

At the start of this season Bonilla will be owed approximately $29.8 million to be paid out over the next 3 decades.

Why did this happen? Costs: sunk and opportunity.

Mets management has even claimed they have made money on the deal.

Here is what we know:

Deferring Bonilla’s salary allowed them to improve their rotation and win an NL pennant in 2000. Winning a pennat always improves ticket and apparel sales.  It also helps attract players in coming season.

It also enabled them to cut ties with a troublesome and possibly clubhouse poisoning player.  This is like arguing how much worse the economy would be without a stimulus.  Quite possibly true, but also tough to prove.

The Mets also  lucked into drafted a young David Wright in 2001 thanks in part to the departure of Bonilla. This may single-handedly have made the deal worth it–even if they had no idea it was going to happen at the time.  Wright’s popularity and production have been the Mets single greatest asset since 2004.

One major cost–aside from the now $29 million–is the moaning and groaning by fans and talk radio ever since the Bonilla deal was made. The prevailing sentiment that the management/ownership is incapable is not what the Mets want for their primary consumers.

Another question; if Bonilla passes away before the age of 72, do the Mets still have to pay out the money to his estate?  This I do not know.

I do know that the Mets will end up paying–by scale–Bonilla more than any free-agent signing this winter. Depressing for Mets fans? Yes.

Or, does that mean that all the worthwhile players have already been signed and there is nothing worth the money this off season?

Full Disclosure: I am a Mets fan.  And I would really have liked to have at least have had a shot at Cliff Lee…


5 Responses

  1. Everything I look for in the Mets; stupidity, serendipity, more stupidity, and maybe even some morbidity!

  2. a very good arguement for the “pro” side of making the deal, not to mention they thought at the time that their “Madov” ( spelling? ) investment was going to pay for Bonilla many times over.

  3. Bernie Madoff. As in he made off with the Wilpons’–the owners–money…like Bobby Bonilla, Mo Vaugn, Jason Bay (so far), etc etc

  4. the jokes on Bonilla. the Dollar is going to be worth nothing soon anyway.

    But in all seriousness – this is the epitome of why the Mets are a joke.

    • It is a tough call. I like the argument that they wouldn’t have been able to sure up the bullpen or bring in Wright. There’s no salary cap but clearly there is a magic number or they wouldn’t have bother constructing this complex payout scheme.

      Or Steve Phillips–then GM–knew he wouldn’t be around by the time the payout started and this was a way for him to keep spending and kick the can down the road.

      What the front office–and whatever economist/accountant/Madoff associate–didn’t factor in was intangibles. Mets fans have been pissed about this for years and have had very little faith in the head honchos since.

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