For baseball fans everywhere, July 1st is always a memorable day. Of course, for fans of the New York Mets, it’s another sad day in the history of the franchise. Bobby Bonilla is a former outfielder who played for several teams throughout his career. He had a 16 year career and had several very productive seasons. In fact, he was a six time All-Star and won the Silver Slugger Award three times as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. However, that is not the reason anyone remembers him today.
He is remembered because every July 1st from July 2001 to July 1st 2035, the Mets are contractually obligated to pay Bonilla $1.19 million dollars. The Mets bought out Bobby’s contract in 2000. The ownership group of the Mets and Bonilla agreed on a deferred contract. decided to invest the deferred payments with disgraced Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff. Bonilla’s contract called for him to be paid $5.9 million dollars in 2000. So this is why Bonilla is so well known and why the Mets are ridiculed every July 1st, and probably will be even after this messy saga is over.
Having said that, the Mets aren’t the only team who has deferred contracts. The Nationals did it with ace Max Scherzer. In fact, the Nationals are currently paying Max Scherzer, even when he pitches against them! Even Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman has a ridiculous amount of deferred money heading his way. The Dodgers will reportedly pay Freeman $57 million from 2028-2040!
There are others as well, but needless to say, the Mets will always be the most well known and mocked team when it comes to deferred contracts. It may not be their fault, but it’s hard to not laugh at their current predicament. It may not be a lot of money to current owner Steve Cohen, but that doesn’t make it any less humorous.