June 3, 2023

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Bobby Bonilla’s famous salary deferral deal with the New York Mets is paying off in more ways than one. The salary deferral agreement, an addendum to Bonilla’s original contract with the Mets, sold at auction Saturday night for $180,000. Bidding rose above $150,000 in the final hours of the auction.

The contract has been in the possession of Dennis Gilbert, the agent who brokered the deferred compensation arrangement, since signing. According to Goldin Auctions, in addition to the contract addition itself, the auction winner will also receive:

  • A 30-minute Zoom meeting with Bonilla and Gilbert.
  • A signed baseball, a game-used bat from Bonilla’s personal collection, and an exclusive NFT of the contract.
  • A day with Bonilla in New York, including breakfast, a trip to Citi Field for practice and a game, and dinner.

Since 2011, the Mets have paid Bonilla an annual deferred salary of $1,193,248.20 on July 1, and will continue to do so until 2035. The payments come from Bonilla’s $5.9 million salary in 2000. The Mets released him in January and because ownership believed he would make a significant profit through their investments with Bernie Madoff, agreed to defer Bonilla’s salary with 8 percent interest and spread it over 25 years from 2011-35. $5.9 million rose to $29.8 million.

July 1 has become known as Bobby Bonilla Day, and while the Mets have often been mocked for the deferred salary agreement, new owner Steve Cohen has embraced it. He even suggested inviting Bonilla to Citi Field every year and presenting him with a large novelty check.

Bonilla isn’t the only former major leaguer collecting deferred pay. In fact, Mets shortstop Max Scherzer will be paid $15 million in deferred salary every July 1 from 2022-2028, stemming from his previous contract with the Washington Nationals.

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