25 July 2011
Trevor Bauer agreed to a Major League contract with the Diamondbacks on Monday afternoon. According to this tweet from Nick Piecoro from azcentral.com, Bauer's contract has a bonus of $3.4M, with a guaranteed value of $4.45M, and a maximum possible value of $7M. The "slot" amount recommended by Major League Baseball for the #3 pick is $3M, so Bauer received $400K above slot, or 13% above. MLB usually discourages the announcement of above-slot bonuses before the August 15 signing deadline, but apparently the Diamondbacks were able to make the announcement early by convincing MLB that Bauer could potentially help the club this year, and needed the extra few weeks of baseball this year.
By signing Bauer to a Major League contract, he gets placed immediately on the 40-Man roster. This accelerates his path to the Majors, and gets him some Major League benefits (See more details about why Bauer was expected to sign a Major League contract in this story from last month).
It appears that Bauer has signed a split contract, so that his salary for Years 2-4 will depend on whether he plays in the Minors or the Majors. So the total guaranteed value is $4.45M if he never makes the Majors, and can be as high as $7M if he makes the Majors as soon as 2012. A guess at the breakdown is something like this:
Signing Bonus: $3.4M
2012: $0.20M, $0.50 (Majors)
2013: $0.30M, $1.20 (Majors)
2014: $0.40M, $1.75 (Majors)
This contract will not buy out Bauer's arbitration years. The best-case scenario is that Bauer will make the Majors sometime in 2012, and then spend 2013 and 2014 with the Diamondbacks. In this case, he could be eligible for salary arbitration in 2015, the year this contract ends. If he is not eligible for arbitration yet, the team can just renew his contract at whatever value they want (usually a small increase over the previous year's deal). Even though Bauer is on a Major League contract already, his six years of service before he becomes a free agent will not start until he actually makes the Major League club. By being on the 40-Man roster, however, his option years will begin the first time he is sent back down to the Minors.