Bonus Rules


This is still research in progress. The below rules may be incomplete.

The Major Leagues made another attempt to curb free market forces by instituting a bonus rule in early 1947. Teams were signing amateurs for large bonuses. To try to force themselves to stop, they passed a rule stating that any player(with less than five years' experience) signed for a combined bonus and salary of at least $6,000 (lower if signed by a minor league club) had the status of a "bonus player." Bonus players could not be optioned to a lower league or withdrawn from waivers. They could be sent outright to the minors if they cleared waivers, but were then eligible for unrestricted draft.

The following year, the rule was amended so that, once released, bonus players lost that designation. Effective April 1, 1949, the bonus/salary limits for the minors were raised with the proviso that the limit applied even if the bonus was paid over more than one year. Once a bonus player was claimed on waivers or drafted, he was allowed to be optioned to the minors for one year.

Following the 1950 season, the Major Leagues decided that the bonus rule was a failure, and terminated it. Teams were still paying large bonuses, and the recipients, forced to remain on major league rosters, generally proved to be unproductive due to their lack of minor league experience. All restrictions were removed from bonus players. However, as the problem of amateurs receiving their worth continued, a new bonus rule was instituted two years later.

The new bonus rule endowed bonus player status on anyone signing with a Major League or minor league team in Class A or higher for a combined bonus and salary of more than $4,000. Such status was also conferred if the player signed for more than $3,000 with a minor league team in Class B or below. These new bonus players had to remain on a Major League roster for at least two years if they began their professional career in the Major Leagues. If they instead began in the minor leagues, they were subject to unrestricted draft. This rule survived until the winter following the 1957 season. Subsequently, attempts to curb large bonuses involved the first year player draft and the amateur draft.

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