Was Bobby Bonilla’s Contract Financially Brilliant Or Horrendously Stupid?
Bobby Bonilla’s Contract
Happy Fiscal New Year! July 1st marks the start of the fiscal year for many corporations, symbolizing new beginnings. However, for the New York Mets, it also brings the recurring issue known as Bobby Bonilla Day, where they immediately lose a staggering one million dollars.
As you’ve likely seen in the news and on various online platforms, including CelebrityNetWorth, today the Mets will be sending a check amounting to $1,193,248.20 to Bobby Bonilla. This payment will continue annually on July 1st until 2035, thanks to a unique 25-year payment plan established in 1999 when the team bought out the remaining year and $5.9 million of Bonilla’s contract.While the Mets often face criticism for what appears to be a poor business decision, it can be argued that both parties may have missed out on potential financial gains. Financial experts often stress the importance of the time value of money, raising the question of whether it is wiser to receive a lump sum or wait for incremental installments. Generally, if one can make wise investments, it is usually smarter to take the money upfront and let compound interest work its magic.
Instead of paying Bonilla $5.9 million outright to terminate his contract, the Mets opted for a total payment of $29.8 million spread over 25 years. At first glance, this decision seems to be a $24 million blunder. However, let’s assume that the Mets took the initial $5.9 million, invested it, and achieved a consistent 10% annual rate of return.
In 2017, that initial sum would have grown to approximately $27.1 million, nearly covering Bonilla’s annuity. By 2021, it would have amounted to $43 million, clearly favoring the Mets. Looking ahead to the end of the Bonilla saga in 2035, the potential return on investment exceeds $180 million, further solidifying the Mets’ advantage.
Of course, it’s important to note that these calculations do not account for inflation, and achieving a consistent 10% rate of return year after year would be challenging.
Nevertheless, the key point remains that there was some financial rationale behind the decision to defer Bonilla’s payment, especially considering the Mets’ previous successful investments with Bernie Madoff, which had yielded returns far exceeding 10%. Unfortunately, as we now know, Madoff’s investment fund turned out to be an elaborate Ponzi scheme, shattering the mathematical foundation that supported the Bonilla deal.
It’s worth mentioning that the Mets did not actually achieve a 10% return on investments made between 2000 and the present day. As highlighted in this article, team owner Fred Wilpon had significant investments tied to Bernie Madoff. Prior to Madoff’s notorious collapse in 2008, his fund falsely boasted consistent double-digit returns every year. With this belief in mind, Wilpon thought that deferring Bonilla’s money would yield substantial profits for the team.
Tragically, it became evident that Bernie Madoff’s investment scheme was nothing more than a massive fraud. Wilpon, under the false impression of having earned $300 million through Madoff’s investments, suffered potential losses of up to $700 million, erasing any perceived gains on Bonilla’s deferred payments.
Consequently, it appears that the Mets have incurred substantial losses today. While Bobby Bonilla may enjoy the attention surrounding Bobby Bonilla Day on social media, he may have also experienced a loss.
It’s important to remember that Bonilla was rightfully owed the initial $5.9 million. If Bobby had chosen to accept the money, invest it, and aim for a 10% return, he would have easily accumulated over $100 million by 2035,
surpassing the $29 million he will receive. Even if he had invested the entire lump sum upfront and achieved a 10% return, it wouldn’t match the amount accumulated through the extended payment plan.
Of course, there are many variables at play. Market returns are never guaranteed, and it’s unlikely that Bonilla would have consistently achieved a 10% return over several decades. Moreover, there is a certain security in receiving a payment every Fiscal New Year’s Day. Nonetheless, the basic math doesn’t favor Bonilla, as a 52-year-old retiree making more than the team’s ace pitcher. However, the value of time can often outweigh the value of money, and this is something to reflect upon every Fiscal New Year and even on Bobby Bonilla Day.