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Which Mets Contract Buyout Was the Worst?



By Mike Silva ~ March 22nd, 2011. Filed under: Mike Silva, New York Mets, Polls.

via ESPN New York:

The amount owed to Perez ranks near the top of the unofficial list of largest contracts eaten in organization history, with Castillo also high on the list. Perez is No. 1 in terms of outright money owed; however, Bobby Bonilla worked out a deal that eclipses $12 million.

When the Mets cut bait with Bonilla after the 1999 season, they were on the hook for $5.9 million. Instead, the Mets agreed to pay Bonilla $29.8 million between 2011 and 2035. Those annual $1,193,248.20 payments begin July 1.

The Mets also have eaten:

• $9 million of $10 million owed to outfielder Roger Cedeno when they sent him to the St. Louis Cardinals at the end of spring training in 2004.

• $4.5 million when they sent infielder Kazuo Matsui to the Colorado Rockies in 2006.

• $3.75 million when they traded second baseman Roberto Alomar to the Chicago White Sox in 2003.

The reacquisition of Bonilla was a deal that sent reliever Mel Rojas to Los Angeles. If you don’t remember Rojas, think about how hated Perez is today and that is pretty much how the fans felt about him. Rojas was a closer for Montreal that saved 36 games with a 3.22 ERA, while striking out ten per nine innings in 1996. That winter he signed a 3 year $14 million dollar deal to close for the Cubs. He was struggling in Chicago so they offered him to the Mets- who were in desperate need of bullpen help- and Steve Phillips made his first deal as GM by sending Lance Johnson and starter Mark Clark to the Cubs for Turk Wendell, Brian McRae, and Rojas. The deal didn’t turn out bad, but it was McRae and Wendell that helped the Mets more than Rojas. One of his first games as a Met was a meltdown against the Astros at Shea Stadium. It didn’t get better during his tenure, and a year later Bobby Valentine had to bench Rojas the last month of the season. Swapping Bonilla for Rojas was a salary dump for both the Mets and Dodgers. The problem was Bobby Bo was making $1.4 million more than Rojas in 1999. It would have been easier to just release Rojas and eat the money. The Mets decided to do a complicated deferred payment to Bonilla and now owe nearly $30 million until 2035.

Roger Cedeno was given a 4 year $24 million dollar deal after a good 2001 season in Detroit. The Mets thought they were reacquiring the player that hit over .300 and stole 66 bases for them in 1999. He stole 29 in two years with some of the worst outfield defense in the history of the game. Two years later they traded him to the Cardinals for Wilson Delgado.

Kaz Matsui was signed out of Japan with much fanfare. It was the move that sent Jose Reyes to second base. After two uninspiring seasons Matsui was also the object of the fans ire back in 2006. He was hitting only .200 when he was dealt to Colorado for Eli Marrero. He would go on to have a couple of decent seasons in Colorado and Houston.

You all know the deal with Roberto Alomar. His skills eroded very much like another former Cleveland second baseman the Mets acquired in the mid nineties. At least Carlos Baerga had some clutch hits for the club during the 1997 season.  He actually hit .321 when the game was late and close that season. The Mets received Royce Ring and a couple of minor leaguers from the White Sox in that deal. Ring never lived up to his potential as a future closer, and has bounced around the big leagues ever since.

The worst deal still has to be the decision to acquire Bonilla for Rojas. From an on the field standpoint Bonilla would have been a decent complementary bat, but he was showing signs of decline in Los Angeles a year earlier. His negative history in New York should have made the decision to release Rojas, and eat the $4.5 million rather easy. Now Bobby Bonilla will be on the payroll for the next 25 years.

Which buyout was the worst in your opinion?

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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2 Responses to Which Mets Contract Buyout Was the Worst?

  1. 86mets

    The Bonilla deal is DEFINITELY the worst of the deals. How could paying the man $30 million 20 years AFTER he retired POSSIBLY be better than just eating his salary for the 2000 season? I think someone on another site once explained that the Mets re-invested the $5.9 million owed Bonilla at the time and somehow or other come out actually better due to interest earned on their investment or whatever. I’m no banker and don’t know the first thing about the financial business so I guess I have to take that blogger’s word for it. But to me this still seems like a bad move.

  2. Stu B

    Rojas’ signature moment as a Met came on 6/26/98 vs Paul O’Neill at Shea – http://www.ultimatemets.com/gamedetail.php?gameno=5816&tabno=A

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