July 1 means a lot of things to a lot of people.

We celebrated Canada’s 152nd year of existence that day, for example. Some people celebrated their own personal birthdays. Maybe a wedding anniversary in there for some.

For Bobby Bonilla, though, July 1 was a good day. A real good day. You see, Bonilla was paid $1,193,248.10 by the New York Mets on July 1 simply for being a warm body. Why, you ask? Simple – the Mets decided to defer his salary. Here’s the story:

Bonilla was under contract to the Mets in 2000 but wasn’t exactly knocking the crap out of the ball. The Mets agreed to buy him out of the $5.9 million remaining on his contract at the time but it wasn’t one big payment. No, the Mets decided to annual payments beginning in 2011 with eight per cent interest tacked on. Thanks to that, Bonilla will receive that amount until 2035 when he turns 56. I should have stuck with the football.

But he isn’t the only one. No, there are many athletes who enjoy the luxury of a deferred salary and while I would love to tell you about many of them, my space is only so much. So here are some of the wild ones to make you feel better about your life:

Manny Ramirez

He was the guy who we loved to say was just “Manny being Manny” but Manny is also bringing home the bacon, the pork chops and the rest of the pig while he’s at it.

Manny Ramirez made a lot of money when he played with the Boston Red Sox. He continues to make a lot of money even though he no longer plays with the Boston Red Sox.
photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Ramirez signed an eight-year, $160 million deal with the Boston Red Sox in 2000, the biggest contract in baseball history at the time and still a sizable chunk of cash today. The best part? The contract included $32 million of deferred salary from 2011 to 2026 and, of course, it included interest. That means Manny Ramirez is making $2 million per year and will continue to do so until he’s 54.

The Red Sox broke The Curse of the Bambino with Ramirez so maybe it was money well-spent but Manny is probably still being Manny … and is richer than you.

Ichiro Suzuki

He’s one of the best to ever play baseball and one of the most popular players in history. I always enjoyed watching him play but I also enjoy knowing he’s awfully shrewd.

His final contract with the Seattle Mariners from 2008 to 2012 was worth $90 million over five years. A fine amount, for sure, but he stuck a rider in there to defer $5 million in each of the five years for a total of $25 million with an interest rate of 5.5 per cent annually.

Ichiro said goodbye to baseball earlier this season after a series in Japan in March but he won’t be saying goodbye to the money as his deferred payments are set to begin this coming January and will continue until 2032.

Yakyū otoko wa kyūryō o morau, as they say in Japanese. Go look it up.

Bruce Sutter

This one is my personal favourite simply for the sheer lunacy of it and it may be worse than the Bobby Bonilla farce.

Sutter signed a six-year deal with the Atlanta Braves in 1984 for what was originally $9.1 million. That was big money back then for a reliever who was on the downward swing of his career but it’s how the contract was crafted that will make your head spin. You see, Sutter and his agent structured the contract in such a way that he would be paid for 36 years. You read that right – 36 years. Here’s how:

Sutter received $750,000 in base salary for the original six years with the rest of the money to paid out as an annuity for 30 seasons following the expiration of the original contract. The money was put away with an interest rate of 13 per cent (what!?) annually and if you do the math, Sutter has been receiving roughly $1.1 million from the Braves since 1990.

To put the tin lid on this, there is reportedly a $9.1 million principal payment due at the end of it all. And you think you have a smart agent?

There are many more and I encourage you to look them up so you can see what you’re missing out on. In the meantime, I’ll be marching to the general manager’s office to demand deferment on the remainder of my salary. At 10 per cent monthly, you can’t go wrong!


James McCarthy

After being a nomad around North America following my semi-debauched post-secondary days, I put down my roots in Yellowknife in 2006. I’ve been keeping this sports seat warm with NNSL for the better...