However, the Met’s rivals to the south, the Washington Nationals, make that annual payment look insignificant in comparison. Owned by real estate magnate Ted Lerner, the Washington Nationals have turned deferring salaries into an art form more graceful than Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy turning a double play.
Since 2016, the Nationals have been arguing in a court case that the Baltimore Orioles are not paying them their rightful fees from their agreement with the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, a convoluted deal negotiated through Major League Baseball before Ted Lerner owned the team.
As stated in a 2016 court filing by Nationals Principal Ed Cohen, a son-in-law of patriarch Ted Lerner:
“Without this added and steady income, the Nationals cannot bring full economic confidence to investments in multi-year player contracts to keep up with the fierce competition for top players.”
As detailed online in several places including The Washington Post and Spotrac.com, the Washington Nationals currently have the following deferred salaries payable, including more than $24 million this coming season for players who will not be suiting up for the team:
As shown above, Daniel Murphy will be paid $3 million after he becomes a free agent after next season, and the Nationals currently owe a total of $9 million in deferred payments in 2020 and 2021.
In a good-news/bad-news situation for Nationals fans, the team will free up $17.5 million after the 2018 season when a certain Right Fielder is scheduled to become a free agent.
However, as shown below, the Nationals have even more significant deferrals after the 2021 season through the 2025 season:
And then even more financial hurdles on the horizon from the 2026 to 2030 seasons:
Starting in 2025, the Nationals will be paying $120 million to pitchers who no longer pitch for them. Makes Bobby Bonilla seem like quite a deal doesn’t it?