NEW YORK, July 1 (UPI) -- Imagine being handed a $1.19 million check every year on the same day for more than 20 years and you don't even have to work for it.
That's the peculiar honor Bobby Bonilla has had, since he left Major League Baseball in 2001.
July 1 the New York Mets signed another check for Bonilla, and will do so until 2035. His last check will come when he is 72 years old.
The deal came together when the Mets wanted to cut Bonilla, but still owed him $5.9 million. The team agreed to pay him 8 percent in annual interest, starting on July 1, 2011.
ESPN's Darren Rovell pointed out that the Mets possibly did the deal because of its owners' relationship with Bernie Madoff.
"The Mets have never really talked about the deal, but it is well known that their owners, the Wilpons, had many accounts with investor Bernie Madoff," Rovell wrote Friday. "Madoff was returning 12 to 15 percent a year in what we now know were fictional returns. So deferring deals wasn't a problem because the payout would occur years later and the interest rate would be lower than the money they were (fictionally) getting back from Madoff. To see the deal as the Mets would have seen it, let's say the Wilpons put $5.9 million into a Madoff account in 2000 and got a conservative (by Madoff standards) 10 percent annual return. By 2011, when they would have to pay Bonilla for the first time, they would have already grown their pot to $16.83 million. Even with paying off Bonilla every year, they would wind up with a $49 million profit on the deal. Of course, the Madoff returns weren't real, which complicates this hindsight."
Bonilla, 53, hit .270 and hit 94 home runs in five seasons for the Mets. He played third base, first base, and right field.
"The deal was signed by the Florida Marlins in 1996, but Bonilla was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1998 blockbuster that involved Gary Sheffield and Mike Piazza," CBS Sports' Matt Snyder reported in 2013. "Bonilla was later flipped to the Mets. He then only played 60 games in 1999, hitting .160/.277/.303, so the Mets saw fit to get rid of him before the 2000 season instead of paying him $5.9 million that year."
The Pittsburgh Pirates signed Bonilla as an amateur free agent in 1981. The six-time All-Star hit 287 home runs and held a .279 batting average in 16 major league seasons.