Rule 3 - General Contract Rules

Contract Eligibility

The following types of players are eligible to sign professional contracts:
  1. Reserved/Drafted players - May be signed only by the club holding the player's rights (players may only be drafted subject to the High School, College, and JuCo Rules).
  2. Undrafted Free Agents - Players who were previously eligible for the draft, have not previously signed a professional contract, and are residents of U.S. or Canada (U.S. includes all U.S. territories).
  3. International Free Agents - International players who are not subject to the HS, College, or JuCo Rules, and are:
    a. at least 17 years old at the time of signing, or
    b. 16 at the time of signing but will be 17 by the end of the first season for which he signs
  4. Free Agents/Minor League Free Agents - Players released or non-tendered by other teams.

High School Rules

  • No U.S. or Canadian high school student can sign a professional contract while still eligible to participate in high school athletics.
  • If a player drops out of high school prior to expiration of such eligibility, he must sit out 1 year before prior to signing a professional contract.
  • A player may be signed prior to his high school graduation if he is eligible by age, has completed the maximum number of semesters of attendance, or he has played the maximum number of seasons he is eligible to play. Such a contract may not obligate the player to report prior to graduation.

College Rules

  • A U.S. or Canadian college player cannot be signed from the time he attends his first class until his class graduates, with certain exceptions:
    • Exceptions (these players may apply to become eligible):
      • Players who are 21 years old within 45 days of the draft and are between school years;
      • Players who have completed their junior year and are between school years;
      • Players who have exhausted their collegiate athletic eligibility;
      • Players excused from their teams for scholastic reasons;
      • Players withdrawing from college after sitting out 120 days.
    • Players seeking to be eligible under these exceptions must apply to the Commissioner, and all teams must be notified if the player gains eligibility.
  • Seniors may be signed/drafted immediately after the completion of his final class. A fifth-year senior who was undrafted after his 4th year may be signed between the time his baseball season ends and the draft. If he is unsigned, he shall re-enter the draft.
  • NCAA and NAIA Tournaments – a player whose team is participating in the NCAA or NAIA tournament may not sign until the day after his team is eliminated.

JuCo Rules

  • A JuCo player not selected in the prior draft may not be signed during from the time he attends his first class until after the completion of the next Rule 4 draft.

Uniform Contracts

  • All contracts shall be in the form proscribed by the CBA.
  • Minor League contracts for first time professionl players shall be seven minor league seasons in length.
  • Minor league contracts for players who have previously signed pro contracts may not exceed seven years in length
  • Approval of the Commissioner is required for contracts which differ from uniform contracts.
  • No performance bonuses shall be based on pitching skill, batting skill or team standings.
  • The contracts of recently drafted player may not be assigned to another team for a period of one year from the original date of the contract.
  • First year players must be given at least a 15-day trial period before being cut.
  • The minimum slalary for players at each level shall be estbalished by the Commisioner's Office
  • Signing bonuses may be paid in installments for up to 5 years if the contracting player is a "two way player" with legitmate potential to become a professional athlete in another sport (as determined by the Commisioner)
  • Players may contract to receive contingent bonuses for remaining on a roster or remaining active for more than a given number of days at certain levels.
  • Teams may offer scholarship plan bonuses to players who enroll in college, and the team will generally be required to honor these scholarships even if the player is released.
  • A player must report to a team within 24 hours of signing.
  • Contract must be filed with commissioner within 20 days of signature.
  • Any contract in violation of the rules shall be null and void.

Contact and Tryouts

  • Clubs may contact unsigned players at any time to discuss a career in baseball, but may NOT influence students to withdraw from school.
  • Teams may hold try outs in accordance with the following regulations:
    • High school students may attend tryouts during summer vacation or one week prior to the draft. Also, high school students may attend tryouts during the school year with permission from the school principal, but such tryouts must be limited to a maximum of 5 high school students (unless within 30 days of the draft, in which case there is no limit to the number of students).
    • College and JuCo players may try out during summer vacation, but not during the season. However, teams are free to observe players in collegiate competition as often as they like.
    • Teams may not pay for tryouts or reimburse amateur players for expenses incurred while attending tryouts. However, teams may pay for the expenses of drafted players who have not yet signed to travel to a tryout, provided that the visit is no longer than 48 hours. Also a team may reimburse international free agents for ground travel expenses to a tryout or air travel expenses to the Dominican epublic or Venezuela.

Tendering Contracts

  • MLB players must be tendered contracts for the next season prior to December 20 or they become free agents.
  • MLB players on inactive lists need not be tendered contracts until removed from inactive lists.
  • Between the Rule 5 Draft and January 15, a team must tender a contract to its minor league players. A salary addendum must be tendered to active players prior to March 1.
  • Tampering – a team shall not entice players with contract negotiations until the team reserves that player’s rights.

Copyright 2009 Feel free to republish this summary, but please give credit to