How do baseball player's salary's change through minor/major league?

Calling all you baseball fanatics.!!

I just watched The Rookie over the weekend and it’s a fine film. Inspirational, heartwarming and all that. It brings to mind a question I’ve had about how a player’s salary changes as he moves up and down through the various league levels (A, AA, AA etc). Dennis Quaid’s character, at one point, is thinking of quitting due to the hardship of travelling and missing the kids, as well as the financial hardship because he only gets paid $600 per month. That was a AA team I think. He keeps playing and eventually moves up to a AAA team. How did his pay scale change? Eventually, he gets to the majors where the minimum salary is well into six figures right? Again, how did it change?

In Bull Durham, Kevin Costner’s character tells how he played in “the show” for two weeks. How did they pay him? Tim Robbins’ character is an up-and-comer, and he apparently has a very lucrative contract, they mention a number, but I don’t remember what it was. His character did drive a Porsche 911.

Anyway, thanks for clearing this up.

Minor league salaries don’t vary that much from Rookie League to AAA – they’re pitiful and they are only for the period of the season, six months or whatever. Also, as a standard, they aren’t guaranteed. If you’re released, that’s it.

When a AAA player jumps to the majors, his salary jumps from $700-$800 per month to six figures. During your first three years in the majors you can be sent down (“Optioned”) to the minors. In that event, your major league salary is prorated.

It’s also possible for a player to be signed to a major league contract, drawing a major league salary, be on the major league 40-player roster, and be playing with a minor league time. That may have been the case with Tim Robbins’ character, or he may have been signed for a large bonus.

I’m sure there are far more knowledgeable baseball fans than me around here who can go through the financials much better.

Surely, though, there are career minor leaguers (perhaps like Kevin Costner in Bull Durham) who can earn a real living? Although, I guess a star AAA player who can’t make it to the majors wouldn’t have a long career on one team.

We have a AAA team in town and there seems to be a mix of young players on the way up and older players (perhaps) on the way down, or maybe even holding steady.

[answer first question]
Of course there is, and don’t call me Shirley
[/answer first question]

Before the new labor agreement, the minimum salary for a major league player was around $220K a year. When the new agreement goes into effect next year, that will be raised to $300K. As kunilou indicated, minor league contracts are basically a pittance no matter what level the player is at, and the vast majority of minor leaguers never make it to the majors at all.

Unless the player is clearly somebody who’s destined for the majors, most minor leaguers work other jobs in the offseason, Dx2. High draft picks (first and second round) can avoid that by living off their signing bonuses, but bonuses in later rounds are really not that large. At best, a career minor leaguer is treading water financially.

First year players get paid $850 per month, regardless of where they are drafted or what level they are playing at. Many teams have a graduating minor league salary scale based on service and playing level that pre-determines their salary after the first year. In addition, players get an extra $14- $18 per day meal money when they are on the road, depending on what level they are playing at.

First Year: $850 per month
Class A: $1050-$1250 per month
Class AA: $1250-$1450 per month
Class AAA: $1500-$2000 per month

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Picks get signing bonuses too, which can be a nice chunk o’ change for the higher picks.

I just found some more info. Apparently, a new trend is to give really high picks a major league contract in addition to their bonus so they don’t have to live on $850 per month. Here are the 2001 signings.
Only 3 of the top 5 picks got these contracts though, but I’d bet it will become more common.

Minor leaguers suffer a lot in terms of salary because they have no collective bargaining unit.

Because of U.S. labor laws, the Major Leaguers can’t include the minor leaguers in their union. And the minor leaguers would have to organize on a league-by-league basis and that is quite difficult with all of the player movement.
After all, no one is a career California League or Florida State League player.

So minor leaguers get slotted into a very low-paid salary structure.

When minor leaguers get called up, they usually get the major league minimum, pro-rated for the time they are on the big league roster.

Does baseball have two-way contracts? In the NHL, a player can sign a contract that specifies a certain rate if he’s in the minors and another if he’s in the NHL.

Yes. You’ll often hear such contracts in baseball referred to as “split contracts.”

Zev Steinhardt

My brother-in-law played baseball in college on scholarship, and after graduation he tried out with one or two pro teams. He’s an excellent pitcher, but rather short (5’ 8"), with great control but not much speed (this was close to 20 years ago). Watching The Rookie also made me wonder what my sister’s life could have been like had he played pro ball somewhere. I can imagine the travelling and the separation and such as my father was a treavelling salesman for years, but I was always curious about the financial side, and you guys have cleared it up for me.