Giants agree to 3-year deal with Roberts

Updated: December 2, 2006, 2:44 PM ET
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO -- Dave Roberts agreed to an $18 million, three-year contract with the San Francisco Giants on Saturday, reuniting the outfielder with manager Bruce Bochy.

The 34-year-old Roberts spent the past two seasons with Bochy in San Diego and had said he would be interested in following his manager to the Giants. San Francisco hired Bochy last month to replace Felipe Alou.

"The comfort level is extremely high for me, having a manager I respect and love playing for and being in the same division," Roberts said.

A reliable leadoff hitter, Roberts batted .293 with two homers and 44 RBIs and stole a career-best 49 bases this year. His was fourth in the National League in steals last season and was caught only six times.

Roberts is fourth in the majors with 195 steals the last five seasons, and his 81.3 percent success ratio is second best among players with at least 175 stolen bases in the span.

"I think it puts pressure on the defense," Roberts said. "Obviously I take pride in stealing bases. I also take pride in having a high percentage of stolen bases. I don't want to run into outs."

Roberts' speed give the Giants a dimension that they had been seeking. He will likely hit in front of Omar Vizquel, giving San Francisco two base-stealing threats at the top of the lineup.

"The lineup is a work in progress," general manager Brian Sabean said. "Speed is a determining factor in a lot of games. That speed can show up in any inning of any game. We were cognizant of that. ... This was a perfect fit because our last few teams did not have that dimension."

The Giants have been looking for reinforcements in the outfield; three of their top four outfielders free agents.

Moises Alou has already signed with the New York Mets and the Giants decided Friday not to offer salary arbitration to Barry Bonds and Steve Finley. Randy Winn is the only one certain to return.

They can still negotiate with both players, but Bonds' agent, Jeff Borris, said Friday night that the team's decision not to offer arbitration to baseball's No. 2 career home run hitter indicates bringing the slugger back is not a priority.

Roberts give the Giants flexibility because he has experience playing in both left and center field.

"Once we get all the pieces in place we'll have a better idea of how it shakes out," Sabean said. "He is obviously proficient in both areas which is good for us."

The Giants are also close to announcing a two-year deal with infielder Rich Aurilia that will be worth just over $7 million. Aurilia was taking a physical Saturday, Sabean said, and the deal was expected to be announced after some final details were worked out.

The 35-year-old Aurilia played for the Giants for his first nine major league seasons from 1995-2003, helping San Francisco to the 2002 World Series. He spent the last two seasons with the Cincinnati Reds and has expressed interest in returning to the Bay Area. He batted .300 with 23 home runs and 70 RBIs in 440 at-bats in 2006.

The signing of Roberts comes of day after the team agreed with second baseman Ray Durham on a $14.5 million, two-year deal. Durham is expected to bat fifth and Aurilia could hit third, leaving the clean-up spot as the main hole to fill in the lineup.

Durham will be paid $7 million next season and $7.5 million in 2008. He can also receive an additional $25,000 if he reaches 450 plate appearances in a season.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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