Every year, on July 1st, baseball fans around the world gather around to talk about the story of Bobby Bonilla’s deferred contract with the Mets.
The original deal was done by the Marlins in 1996, but Bonilla was dealt to the Dodgers in the 1998 blockbuster that involved Gary Sheffield and Mike Piazza. Later, the Dodgers flipped him back to the Mets for his second stint (1992-95).
Here’s where the real story comes in. Bonilla played awful in 1999, a year before his contract was up, to the point where he clashed with Bobby Valentine after game six of the 1999 NLCS for playing cards in the clubhouse with teammate Rickey Henderson. After playing in just 60 games with a dismal .160/.277/.303, the Mets realized they no longer wanted him and instead of paying him $5.9 million in the final year, they decided to defer his contract with 8% interest added equaling to $29.8 million once the payments are done in 2035.
This wasn’t the first deferred contract given out in baseball, or the Mets for that matter. They gave one to Darryl Strawberry in 1985 and they deferred 40 percent of his 1990 $1.8 million team option ($700,000) at a 5.1 percent interest rate. However, this deal isn’t on the payroll and a life insurance company has taken over the payments, according to ESPN. It pays out to $1.64 million from 2004 to 2033.
So, there’s the story of why Bonilla is still receiving payments from the Mets without playing. Baseball fans are still making fun of the Mets for this deal because he’s done nothing for them since his first stint. Whenever he wasn’t on the disabled list in his second stint, he was playing poorly for them and ultimately, it lead to the team benching him. This wasn’t the last deferred deal in baseball as Max Scherzer received one with the Nationals, but we’ll see if it was worth it once his career is done. For now, it’s a fun story to talk about to this day and will still be talked about for a long time.