Friday, December 08, 2006
Barry Bonds Remains With The SF Giants - SF Chronicle
All I can say is "Yeah!"
BONDS TO STAY WITH GIANTS
$16 million, 1-year deal would allow slugger to chase homer record in S.F. uniform
John Shea, Henry Schulman, Chronicle Staff Writers
Friday, December 8, 2006
(12-08) 04:00 PST Lake Buena Vista, Fla. -- Roll in the leather recliner. Dust off the row of lockers. Alert the entourage.
Barry Bonds is ready to sign with the Giants for next season.
A source close to contract negotiations confirmed that Bonds and the Giants had reached an agreement on a one-year contract for $16 million, and the deal would be consummated once certain language is finalized and Bonds passes a physical.
"We're working real hard to get something done," Bonds' agent, Jeff Borris, said early this morning. "I'm optimistic we're going to get something done."
Giants Executive Vice President Larry Baer had no comment other than to say, "Some progress was made."
Early Thursday, sources on both sides of the negotiations said they believed the deal was on the verge of being done. In recent days, the sides narrowed the gap on how many millions Bonds would make in 2007 -- he wanted to be paid in the high teens, and the Giants preferred to pay in the low teens.
There was substantial give-and-take on both ends. Bonds wanted a vested option, hoping he could secure a second year by staying healthy, but the Giants insisted on only a one-year deal. They agreed to a higher base salary if Bonds took his eye off a second year, and it took weeks of hard negotiating to reach the compromise.
The deal, according to the Associated Press, includes performance bonuses that could push it to $20 million.
The sides had a series of phone conversations Thursday, one day after a three-hour meeting involving Borris and general manager Brian Sabean and a follow-up phone call.
Further dialogue was necessary to resolve issues, some nonmonetary, and it's possible the Giants will regulate Bonds differently -- for example, limit his number of assistants and their access.
As the winter meetings ended, Sabean hinted he wasn't willing to wait much longer to cut a deal. He was asked if he had any idea if other teams were interested in Bonds.
"No," he said.
Did he care?
Bonds didn't attend the Giants' negotiations here -- "It wasn't prudent," Sabean said -- but Borris made it seem Bonds was at the winter meetings hotel to visit with multiple teams. As the meetings ended, however, no other team emerged with legitimate interest in the 42-year-old left fielder.
Though published reports pointed to the Cardinals as the mystery team that could enter negotiations, they were no mystery at all. GM Walt Jocketty told reporters after Thursday morning's Rule 5 draft, "There's nothing on with Bonds. I'm sick and tired of people asking that. We don't have money for Bonds. We're trying to sign pitching."
The Cardinals never were interested in Bonds, sources said, and the stories were generated based on manager Tony La Russa's intrigue with big-name players. While Borris met with the Cardinals on Wednesday, sources said, Bonds was not present. On the other hand, Bonds did meet with Tigers manager Jim Leyland, apparently a long-awaited social visit.
With Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt a close friend of President Bush -- who called for pro leagues to get rid of steroids in his 2004 State of the Union address -- and the Cardinals still stinging from Mark McGwire's connection with the steroid scandal and embarrassing performance at a congressional hearing in 2005, St. Louis was never a fit.
It seemed clear Borris brought Bonds to the winter meetings to drum up interest for his client, but the Giants said his presence did not affect or accelerate negotiations.
What did alter negotiations was the free-agent market, which saw Alfonso Soriano sign for $136 million and Carlos Lee for $100 million, thus helping Bonds' bargaining power. The Giants pursued both players, along with a trade for Manny Ramirez, and adding any of them probably would have ended Bonds' time in San Francisco.
Instead, he's headed for a 15th season with the Giants. Though he's 22 home runs from breaking Hank Aaron's all-time record, Bonds wasn't attractive to other teams largely because of his involvement in the BALCO steroids scandal. From the outset, the Giants seemed Bonds' only possible choice.
Although Borris repeatedly said Bonds' main focus was winning a World Series, the Giants have posted consecutive losing seasons and lost ace pitcher Jason Schmidt to free agency. But Bonds often talked of retiring with the Giants, for whom his father (Bobby) and godfather (Willie Mays) played.
Bonds won five of his seven MVP awards with the Giants and set the single-season homers record in 2001. His last MVP was in 2004, and he was limited to 14 games in 2005 after undergoing multiple knee surgeries.
Last season, he played 130 games and didn't go on the disabled list. He hit .271 with 26 homers and 77 RBIs. He's coming off a five-year, $90 million contract.
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