A baseball signing bonus or sign-on bonus is a sum of money paid to a new player by a Major League Baseball team as an incentive to join that franchise. Once drafted, players are offered signing bonuses as inducements to sign with the major league franchise and begin their professional careers. These bonuses are often determined by the slot of first round picks or the round of later picks.
Signing bonuses for first round picks typically run in the millions, but may drop off quickly after that to just a few thousand dollars for players in the bottom round. Once signed players are paid the standard minor league salary which is considerably less than the major league minimum salary. Players who play only baseball, have completed their senior year of college or may not qualify to play college baseball academically typically have little leverage and may be offered a signing bonus less than that of a high school senior or a player with scholarships to player other sports.
Baseball Almanac is putting together a list of every known baseball signing bonus in Major League history. We will continue to list these signing bonuses on this page as they are verified AND on the player's page.
"Most of the resentment came from the newspapers. Fifty-two thousand was a sockful of money in 1941 and the papers made a big deal of it. They were writing about me every day."- Dick Wakefield in Baseball Between the Lines (1993, Donald Honig, pp. 80-81.)
Major Legue Baseball Signing Bonus Research
Did you know that Paul Pettit , a left-handed pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates, signed the first ever $100,000 signing bonus back in 1950? Too easy? Did you know the first bonus baby (not under the official Bonus Rule period / 1947-65) was none other than Dick Wakefield (a player who commented about it and we included that quote at the top of this page) who signed for $52,000 back in 1941?
Player names listed in the table above with an asterisk (*) next to their name signed a signing bonus prior to the draft era which began during the 1965 regular season.
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