B. The Draft Era
(1965-2010) / Cash Bonuses Only
Bonus records in
the draft era began with the very first pick in 1965, when the Kansas City A’s
gave a $100,000 bonus to Arizona State sophomore outfielder Rick Monday.
That mark held up
for a decade, but has been broken time and again since—most notably in 2009,
when the Washington Nationals signed San Diego State righthander Stephen
Strasburg to a $7.5 million deal that was part of a $15.1 million major-league
represent straight cash bonuses in real dollars, with no regard to benefits from
college scholarship plans or incentive bonus plans—or guaranteed money in the
few cases where a player signed a major league contract (such players are
denoted with an asterisk).
considers only players who signed with the clubs that drafted them and does not
include the four loophole free agents from 1996—notably Arizona Diamondbacks
first baseman Travis Lee, who set a bonus record by signing for $10 million, or
Tampa Bay Devil Rays righthander Matt White, who established the present-day
standard when he signed for $10.2 million).
In 1979, the San
Francisco Giants signed lefthander Bill Bordley for $200,000, a record amount at
the time for an amateur player. Bordley, a former Southern California star, was
drafted in January of that year by the Cincinnati Reds, but was ruled a free
agent when it was determined by the commissioner’s office that tampering was
involved by another major-league club prior to his selection.