There are a few steps to playing professional baseball and signing a professional contract, first is getting scouted. You will have to either play high school, college, or some other kind of baseball league for professional scouts to see you.
If you are not playing on a team you will have to attend tryouts that the professional teams hold all over the country. Once you get on a scout or a team’s radar, then you will begin talking to them, usually through the scout who is going to sign you.
There are two ways to get picked up by a professional team, the draft and as a free agent. Anyone who was not drafted and is not currently under any other professional contract is a free agent.
THE DRAFT. Once a player is drafted a scout or director will call the player and a signing bonus will be offered. The player can negotiate this himself or have his agent do it.
Signing bonuses are usually determined by the round that the player was drafted. You can usually get a good idea from the previous year’s draft signing bonuses for what the "slot money" is for where you got drafted. First round draft picks are usually in the low millions of dollars. They can get up to a few million for the first few draft picks and down to just under a million later in the first round.
The higher the round, the lower the signing bonus will be (usually).
There are a few things that can keep you from receiving slot money. If you are a senior in college you will usually get less money because you have no options; either you sign, or you go play independent baseball. The clubs hold that over you and can give you less of a signing bonus. Another reason you may not get slot money is if your grades are bad. They can do this because of the same reason they do it to seniors. If you are going to be ineligible the next season, you really have no choice but to sign so they offer you less of a signing bonus.
Once the signing bonus is negotiated, the player will sign a standard 7 year minor league contract in which they will receive a salary on top of their signing bonus. The minor league salary is significantly less than the major league minimum salary.
FREE AGENTS. After a tryout a team may choose to elect you to play in their minor league system. If you accept you will sign a standard 7 year minor league contract; no signing bonus is usually given. In General, when scouting for professional players, scouts will try to find out players "signability". Signability is how able and willing a baseball player is to sign a professional contract and for what signing bonus will he be happy.
Sometimes less signable guys get more than slot money because they are great players and clubs want to persuade them to sign. On the other hand, sometime less signable guys get over passed because clubs don't want to over pay or hassle with someone who is not worth it. This is why having an agent is a good thing. They can honestly assess the situation and negotiate for the money you deserve.
The Major League Baseball minimum salary under the new collective agreement is $550,000. One expects that the same agreement would increase the minimum salary for minor league players by a commensurate rate. A quick check of the salary scale for minor league players reveals some big surprises.
The rate of pay has not increased very substantially for quite a few years and that rate of pay at the minor league level is based only on the months of play during the season. Those rates are before taxes and clubhouse dues. Yes, clubhouse dues that pays the salary of clubhouse managers.
The Standard 7 year, minor league contract, consist of a pay scale for each level of the minor leagues plus an incentives package. Each additional year of service at each level adds $100 a month.
Rookie $1,100 per month
Short Season A $1,100 per month
Low A $1,200 per month
High A $1,300 per month
Double A $1,700 per month
Triple A $2,300 per month
$500 bonus after 60 days in Double A time
$1000 bonus after 60 days Triple A time
$5000 bonus after 60 days Big League time
Minor league players receive $20 meal money per day that the team is away from home (off-season excluded).