Thanks to deferred payments, several former MLB players are still getting a paycheck despite the shutdown, with Ichiro Suzuki heading the list.
With the current lockdown, one of the biggest sticking points has been how much players are going to be compensated. Both the Player’s Union and the owners have been far apart regarding how much of the contracts will be paid out, potentially putting the season in more jeopardy than the ongoing pandemic.
While active major league players are not getting paid, that does not mean that teams are not shelling out money. Former players with deferred money in their contracts are still receiving significant payouts; in some cases, this includes players that retired over 30 years ago. Those deferrals mean that right now, Ichiro Suzuki is the highest paid player in Major League Baseball, earning $5 million, plus 5.5% interest.
While the Nationals are known for their deferred money in contracts, the Mets are the leaders in shelling out payments. They will spend $6,943,498.20 in paying players no longer in the majors, with payments going to Bret Saberhagen, Johan Santana, and Bobby Bonilla. In fact, Bonilla managed to work the deferred payment trick twice, collecting three different paychecks.
Ichiro had officially retired in 2019, but had just 17 games over his final two seasons with the Mariners. In 2018, he had essentially been an unofficial coach, working out with the players before games and reporting to the front office. And, even though he played just two games last year, he was defensively one of the Mariners’ best right fielders.
For his first decade in the majors, Ichiro was a superstar. He opened the door for Japanese position players, showing that they could be viable contributors in the league. Eventually, he will become the first Japanese player inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame, enshrined not just for his production, but for his being a trailblazer in the game.
And now, Ichiro heads another list. His inclusion is not the most surprising; the Braves are still paying Bruce Sutter, who has not pitched since 1988. Saberhagen has not pitched for the Mets since 1995. Then again, the Mets will be paying Bonilla until he is 72 years old, so why not?
There are still some MLB players being paid. Right now, Ichiro Suzuki heads that list.