A cursory Google search using the words “Bonilla deferred money” pulls up no shortage of results detailing how the New York Mets — as part of their 2000 buyout of Bobby Bonilla’s contract —- are on the hook until 2036 for annual payments of more than a million dollars to the underachieving Bronx Tour Guide. As CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman outlines, however, Bonilla’s pact is an even bigger albatross than we’ve previously been led to believe.
The one previously known 25-year deferred plan that pays Bonilla $29.8 million in total becomes a semi-hot topic in New York every July (when the payments are due), but a review of documents turned up a second deferred deal for Bonilla, this one for $500,000 a year, also for 25 years, and beginning even earlier (in 2004). That brings Bonilla’s grand total to more than $42 million. What’s more, Bonilla isn’t the only Met with such a deferred compensation deal, as Saberhagen’s deal for $250,000 a year for 25 years also began in 2004.
Apparently, it actually was Saberhagen’s deferred deal for $6.35 million total that provided a template for the subsequent Bonilla deals, one of which was done as his first $29 million, five-year Mets free-agent deal was winding down in disappointing fashion and the other when he came to the Mets a second time, hit .160 and feuded with manager Bobby Valentine and others. So considering his less-then-overwhelming stints with the Mets, it’s not like the Mets exactly got their money’s worth.
One piece of positive news for the Mets: The smaller arrangement, which is for $12.5 million ($500,000 a year for 25 years), is said by sources to be paid in part by the Orioles, who picked him up from the Mets and got stuck with him (and the contract). Word is, the Orioles are paying a bit less than half of that smaller payment plan.
As the Mets have pared their player payroll to about $90 million (counting current Mariners OF Jason Bay), down from about $140 milliona few years ago, Bonilla stands as the sixth highest-paid Met, at about $1.5 million this year while Saberhagen ranks as about the 13th highest-paid Met.