Bobby Bonilla is the face of deferred contracts and annual stipends in sports — every July 1 until 2035, he receives a check from the New York Mets for $1.19 million.
However, Chris Davis laughs at Bonilla’s deal (which actually fared pretty well for the Mets — more on that later).
In his hey-day, Davis was known as one of the game’s best pure home run hitters. The former Baltimore Oriole blasted an MLB-high 53 dingers in 2013. Two seasons later, in a contract year, he led the majors again with 47. From 2012 to 2016, he hit 197 homers in 743 games, an average of 39 a season, and the most in baseball in that span.
After his 47-homer, 117-RBI campaign in 2015, the Orioles re-signed the then-29-year-old to a seven-year deal worth $161 million, but it became arguably the worst contract in MLB history, and it looks even worse after his retirement.
In his first season with the new deal, Davis still managed to park 38 homers, but for the second season in a row, he led the majors with 219 strikeouts (he had 208 the year prior). After that, though, it went downhill.
From 2017 to 2020, he failed to play in 130 games in each season, and he hit just .185 with a .615 OPS, striking out in 37.4 percent of his plate appearances. In 2019, he went on a 0-for-54 slump. He hung up the cleats in 2021 after missing that entire season with multiple injuries.
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Davis would have been owed $17 million for the 2022 season, the final of his contract. The Orioles will give that salary in deferred payments, but the original contract he signed had plenty of those as well. In fact, Davis will make a whopping $59 million over the next 14 years without even suiting up.
According to Codify, the Orioles will pay Davis $9.16 million per year from 2023 to 2025, followed by payments of $3.5 million in the next seven years. From 2033 to 2037, Davis will make $1.4 million a season.
At least in Bonilla’s case, the Mets got some decent consolation prizes.
When the Mets bought out Bonilla, that freed up money to bring in 1999 NL Cy Young Award finalist Mike Hampton, who played a huge role in getting the Mets to the World Series in 2000. When Hampton left the Mets in free agency (he pitched to a 4.84 ERA for the rest of his career), they received a compensatory pick in the MLB Draft — that pick turned out to be David Wright, who was putting up a Hall of Fame case before injuries derailed his career in 2014.
The Orioles don’t have a consolation prize. In fact, Davis’ deal isn’t the only one strapping them for the future.
Baltimore will also be paying Alex Cobb $1.8 million per year from 2023 to 2032. Cobb last played for the O’s in 2020.
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