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Monday, April 02, 2007

Padres, Gonzalez sign four-year pact- Padres.com

Adrian Gonzalez is a young slugger who is quickly emrging into an elite first baseman in the NL I expect 2007 to be his breakout season.
04/01/2007 7:10 PM ET
First baseman a Padre through 2010, with option for 2011
By Sandy Bergin / Special to MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- What a difference a month makes.
Just four weeks ago, the San Diego Padres offered to renew Adrian Gonzalez' contract for $380,500, which is $500 above the league minimum.

On Sunday, the Padres and their 24-year-old first baseman agreed on a $19.5 million contract. The deal, which includes a $500,000 signing bonus, is for four years through 2010, with a club option for a fifth season in 2011.

Gonzalez, the team's MVP last season after batting .304 with 24 home runs and 82 RBIs, will receive $500,000 for this season, $750,000 in 2008, $3 million in 2009, and $4.75 million in 2010. The Padres will have the option of picking up a $5.5 million contract in 2011.

"This is a special day, a significant day here for this organization, as we're pleased to announce a multiyear contract for Adrian Gonzalez," said Padres GM/executive VP Kevin Towers at a press conference following the Padres final preseason workout at PETCO Park.

"The great thing is that we avoid that arbitration process and ensure that one of San Diego's own will play here in his home town," said Towers. "We're proud to say that Adrian is going to be the centerpiece of the infield, the middle of this lineup -- not only for this contract, but, hopefully, for many more.

"What led us to this decision was, not only is [Gonzalez] a great baseball player, but we take very seriously here in San Diego the type of people we tie ourselves to, long-term. It's important who wears that Padres uniform, who acts, and treats not only our fans but many people in San Diego, in a professional manner. And Adrian Gonzalez is a tremendous role model, who represents the city and this organization."

"First of all, I'd like to thank the Padres, Kevin Towers, Sandy Alderson, [and] John Moores for this opportunity," said Gonzalez. "It is something that secures (my wife, Betsy, and I) and gives us the knowledge that we are going to be here. I know trades are always a possibility -- we learned that in the past -- but I'm very happy.

"My wife and I look forward to trying to help this team win a championship. With the pieces that we have this year and the years to come, we'll be able to accomplish that feat."

Originally selected first overall in the 2000 First-Year Player Draft by the Florida Marlins, Gonzalez was just the second first baseman in baseball history taken with the top pick, joining Ron Blomberg, who was selected first overall by the New York Yankees in 1967. Gonzalez was acquired by San Diego from the Texas Rangers on January 4, 2006, and is the seventh No. 1 overall draft pick to appear in a Padres uniform.

Over parts of three Major League seasons with the Rangers (2004-05) and Padres (2006), Gonzalez has batted .285 (217-for-762) with 48 doubles, 31 home runs, 106 RBIs and 107 runs scored in 215 career games. A native of San Diego, he attended Eastlake High School in Chula Vista where he was named the CIF and San Diego Union-Tribune Player of the Year in 2000.

Padres manager Bud Black, who joined Towers at the press conference, offered his take on securing Gonzalez for the long term.

"I've seen Adrian from the other dugout when he was in Texas," said Black. "I've read his name in print when he was in high school. I got the chance to put the name to the face finally when he got to Texas. When I was in Anaheim and saw him in a Rangers uniform, I knew he was going to be a good player.

"Knowing the year that he had last season [and] where he is in his career, I'm very happy for the organization and happy for Adrian," Black added. "To me, it is validation for the last five weeks in Spring Training watching him go about his business. He comes to play and had done everything that we have asked. He is up front, leading the pack.

"I think he's the guy I will be able to lean on. He has great knowledge of the game, and I look forward to seeing him playing in the field. San Diegians can be very proud."

According to Gonzalez, the deal was not in the works for very long, perhaps the last couple of weeks.
"I'm not the type of guy to be looking into contracts once I'm on the field," Gonzalez said. "That's what I worry about. I was glad the opportunity for this came up."

According to Towers, it was important to get this contract done before the season started.

"Anytime you start negotiating deals in season, sometimes it can be distraction to the players," Towers said. "We want these players focused once the season starts. We didn't have a great deal of time to get it done. Considering there was a renewal, we put our heads together and were able to hammer it out and put it behind us."

Sandy Burgin is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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