Bless you, Steve Phillips, for you are the gift that keeps on giving. In January 2000, Phillips, then-GM of the New York Mets, and team president Fred Wilpon needed to free up some cash to sign free agents, so they asked Bobby Bonilla if they could give him an IOU on the remaining $5.9 million of his contract to the tune of eight percent interest. Bonilla agreed and, we like to think, kissed Phillips on the mouth and yelled, “I’M RICH, BITCH!” Because starting in 2011, the Mets owe Bonilla $1.2 million per year for 25 years.
The deal allowed the Mets to sign
future Hall-of-Famers guys we’ve heard of Mike Hampton, Todd Zeile and Derek Bell. The Mets advanced to the World Series that year before being trounced by the Yankees 4-1. After that season, Zeile stuck around another season and sucked, Bell went to the Pirates, and Hampton became the greatest pitcher in the history of baseball. Haha, just kidding, he developed leprosy.
Come on, shine a positive light on it, NBC Hardball Talk:
Back then Bonilla was represented by agent Jeff Borris of Beverly Hills Sports Council and the Mets’ general manager was Steve Phillips, and according to agent Steve Gilbert “both sides thought it was a good idea.” And in fairness to Phillips, the Bonilla thing certainly wasn’t his worst idea.
Bonilla was at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in Puerto Rico this week for the Mets-Marlins series and referred to his unique arrangement as “that beautiful thing.”
Chalk one up for the former athletes here, because that’s one hell of a retirement plan. Hopefully Steve Gilbert has a fruit basket coming his way because that is some savvy financial planning right there. Obviously this isn’t a huge hit to the Mets, but it’s more of a reminder that while you’re sitting at your desk, reading this between spreadsheets, there are grown men being paid to ruin seven-, eight- and even nine-figure deals.
Bonilla should also get Phillips something nice. Maybe a big sedan. Guy’s gotta nail his Craigslist hookers somewhere.