At least He Can Still Sell Autographs

It was reported today that Livan Hernandez just filed for bankruptcy protection.  His filing reports debts of roughly $1 million and assets of only $50,000.

Baseball Reference says Hernandez earned well over $50 million in a 17 year MLB career which ended in 2012.  It sure didn’t take him long to burn through it all.  I would guess big houses, bad investments, fast cars, fast women and free-loaders were probably the biggest expenditures.

Hernandez can likely start drawing his major league pension at age 45, less than three years from now.  In fact, he may well have elected to file for bankruptcy protection now so that creditors cannot later seek to chase some of those pension benefits (after they’ve been paid out to Hernandez — under the law pension benefits cannot be attached until after they have been paid out to the beneficiary — arrangements can be made so living expenses are paid out the moment the pension benefits arrive into the beneficiary’s bank account — just ask O.J. Simpson).

If Hernandez starts collecting his pension benefits at 45, he won’t get nearly as much per month as he would at full retirement age (62 under MLB’s plan), which for ten year MLB vets like Hernandez is currently about $210,000 per year (plus 20 years of cost of living increases or other federal increases to the pension benefits max between now and 2037).

It’s always somewhat shocking that someone could burn through so much money so quickly, but it’s hardly the first time that a high flying athlete got his financial wings clipped after the million dollar pay days came to an end.  I suspect that Livan’s upbringing in Cuba has a lot to do with it, as people make nothing there, basic necessities are heavily subsidized and rationed, and as part of the country’s ballplayer pipeline, he probably never had to make a financial decision of his own in any amount until he defected at age 20.

Still, he’s had the last 22 years to come to terms with the realities of living in a capitalist society, and his bankruptcy filing does nothing to change my prior opinion developed during his SF Giants’ playing days that Hernandez is not necessarily the sharpest tool in the shed.

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