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Bobby Bonilla Signs $29 Million Contract - Baseball’s Richest With PM-Highest Salaries-List

December 3, 1991

NEW YORK (AP) _ Bobby Bonilla signed a five-year, $29 million-plus contract with the New York Mets to become the highest-paid player in baseball history.

The deal, signed Monday, ends a month of frenzied negotiations with the 28- year-old outfielder, who played last season for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

″I’m sort of an East Coast guy,″ said the native New Yorker. ″I like the change in seasons.″

The deal consists of a guaranteed $27.5 million in salary and a guaranteed $1.5 million for promotional activity, plus millions more in bonuses if he does well in the balloting for Most Valuable Player. He also gets a single room.

The $5.8 million annual average tops the previous record of $5.38 million, set by pitcher Roger Clemens in the four-year extension he begins with the Boston Red Sox next season.

The total amount of the deal breaks the record set by outfielder Jose Canseco in his five-year, $23.5 million contract with the Oakland Athletics.

″I’m still not thrilled about five years,″ Mets general manager Al Harazin said, ″but to get a player we coveted we had to bite the bullet on the fifth year.″

Bonilla, who made $2.4 million last season, chose the Mets’ offer over proposals from the Philadelphia Phillies and the California Angels. The Pirates also made an offer, as did the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox.

Bonilla hit .302 last season with 18 home runs and 100 RBIs. A .283 lifetime hitter, he has 116 home runs (19.3 per season) and 526 RBIs (87.6) in six major-league seasons.

The Mets finished in fifth place in their division last season, 20 games behind the first-place Pirates. Last week, the Mets signed first baseman Eddie Murray to a two-year free deal for $7.5 million.

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