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Bobby Bonilla Day: The MLB Deferred Money All-Star Team

It’s July 1, which means Bobby Bo gets another seven-figure check from the Mets — but he’s not the only one earning MLB millions long after the end of his contracts.

On every single July 1 since 2011 — and every subsequent one through 2035 — baseball fans celebrate the hallowed tradition known as Bobby Bonilla Day, a glorious holiday in which the six-time MLB All-Star receives a deferred $1.19 million payment from the New York Mets as a result of what came to be an utterly gross miscalculation on the part of the club dating back to the 1999-00 offseason.

By the time the 25th and final Bobby Bonilla Day has come and gone 13 years from now, the man will have turned the $5.9 million the Mets still owed after releasing him with a year left on his contract into a full $29.8 million in deferred money as part of a peculiar with-interest compensation structure. And the rest is history. But not the full history — because Bobby Bonilla is far from the only figure from the last few decades of baseball to secure a gigantic deferred bag in a major way.

(Just ask the Boston Red Sox, who have repeatedly used the tactic presumably to provide some short-term breathing room against the luxury tax.)

This year, let’s celebrate Bobby Bonilla Day by revealing the Deferred Money All-Star Team, a ragtag bunch of rascals who have continued or will continue to receive MLB checks well into their 50s and 60s.

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The Deferred Money All-Stars of Major League Baseball

All dollar figures via Spotrac

OF Bobby Bonilla (Mets)
  • Career: 1986-2001
  • Total deferred money: $29,831,205
  • Terms: $1,193,248.20 every July 1 for 25 years
  • Last payment year: 2035

He’s prototype. He’s the legend. He’s Bobby Bo.

As the story goes, a key reason Mets owner Fred Wilpon agreed to Bonilla agent Dennis Gilbert’s proposal for deferring his client’s 2000 salary at 8% annual interest was because the Wilpons were profoundly invested with Bernie Madoff, who had “guaranteed” at least 10% return. Eight years later, it was revealed that Madoff was running the biggest Ponzi scheme of all time.

1B Chris Davis (Orioles)
  • Career: 2008-2020
  • Total deferred money: $42,000,000
  • Terms: $3,500,000 per year for 10 years, then $1,400,000 per year for five years
  • Last payment year: 2037

That’s right, two different deferred salary gravy trains back-to-back! In 2023, Davis gets his first of five $3.5 million payouts from the O’s. When he receives the last of 10 $1.4 million chunks in 2037, he’ll be over the age of 50.

SP Jacob deGrom (New York Mets)
  • Career: 2014-present
  • Total deferred money: $67,500,000
  • Terms: Annual payments of $12,000,000, $13,500,000, $15,000,000, and $12,000,000, plus $15,000,000 as part of a 2024 club option
  • Last payment year: 2038 or 2039

The Notorious JdG’s delayed salary as part of his five-year, $137,500,000 contract goes live starting in 2035. Even if the Mets don’t exercise his $32,500,000 club option for 2024 — he’d receive the final $15,000,000 of that sum in 2039 — he can still boast no less than $52,500,000 in deferred cash to his name.

OF Ken Griffey Jr. (Cincinnati Reds)
  • Career: 1989-2010
  • Total deferred money: $57,500,000
  • Terms: Annual payments of $3,593,750 per year for 16 years
  • Last payment year: 2024

Junior Griffey will forever be known as the transcendent face of the Seattle Mariners, but he’s a Reds legend, too. A full 14 years after his final MLB appearance, he’ll get the last deferred payment on his nine-year, $116,500,000 deal that began all the way back in 2000.

2B Dustin Pedroia (Boston Red Sox)
  • Career: 2006-2019
  • Total deferred money: $18,000,000
  • Terms: $2,000,000 every July 15 for four years, then $2,500,000 per year for four years
  • Last payment year: 2028

Though he played his last game in 2019, the Laser Show didn’t officially retire from baseball until 2021 — but that didn’t stop him from making base salaries of $4,637,737 in 2020 and $12,000,000 in 2021. On top of it all, he gets $18,000,000 deferred through the summer of 2028.

OF Manny Ramirez (Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers)
  • Career: 1993-2011
  • Total deferred money: $30,000,000 (Dodgers) + $23,951,682 (Red Sox) = $53,951,682
  • Terms: Annual payments of $5,000,000, $8,333,333.33, $8,333,333.33, and $8,333,333.33 over four years (Dodgers); Annual payments of $1,968,677, $1,973,599, $1,978,533, $1,983,479, $1,988,438, $1,993,409, $1,998,393, $2,003,389, $2,008,397, $2,013,418, $2,018,452, and $2,023,498 over 12 years (Red Sox)
  • Last payment year: 2026

Deferred deals with two different teams? Manny being Manny indeed!

In 2013, the Dodgers closed out their account with Ramirez to the tune of $30,000,000 three years after he’d finished playing for them. Meanwhile, the Red Sox agreed to 12 years’ worth of payments of approximately $2,000,000 each, the last of which comes when the iconic slugger will be 54.

SP Chris Sale (Boston Red Sox)
  • Career: 2010-present
  • Total deferred money: $50,000,000
  • Terms: Annual payments of $10,000,000 for five years
  • Last payment year: 2039

Chris Sale has made just nine appearances since the 2019 season and hasn’t played in 2022 as of this writing, but he’s absolutely set financially through at least age 50 when he receives the final $10,000,000 sum the Red Sox owe him as part of his active five-year, $145,000,000 contract.

SP Max Scherzer (Washington Nationals)
  • Career: 2008-present
  • Total deferred money: $105,000,000
  • Terms: Annual payments of $15,000,000 for seven years
  • Last payment year: 2028

Max Scherzer no longer plays for the Nationals. In fact, he now plies his trade for the division rival Mets — which means that starting this year, Washington will pay him $15,000,000 annually to pitch against them, per the terms of the seven-year, $210,000,000 deal that ran through 2021.

RP Bruce Sutter (Atlanta Braves)
  • Career: 1976-1988
  • Total deferred money: $42,700,000
  • Terms: Annual 12.3% interest payments of $1,120,000 for 30 years, plus full $9,100,000 in deferred base salary
  • Last payment year: 2022

It’s finally the end of the line for Bruce Sutter. The splitter specialist signed a six-year, $9.1 million contract with Atlanta ahead of the 1985 season, but opted to delay the whole thing for decades. This year caps the end of a process that saw Sutter turn $9,100,000 into $42,700,000 thanks to 30 years’ worth of additional interest payments at 12.3% each.

Honestly, Bobby Bonilla Day is a hallowed tradition, but we really ought to call it Bruce Sutter Day. At 69 years old, the Hall of Famer is still getting rich off the World Series champs.

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