Bonds, Thomas, Garciaparra get a jump on free agency
NEW YORK -- One day after the World Series ended, baseball's business season began Saturday when San Francisco's Barry Bonds, Oakland's Frank Thomas and the Los Angeles Dodgers' Nomar Garciaparra headed 59 players who filed for free agency.
Oakland pitcher Barry Zito and Washington's Alfonso Soriano are the biggest names available in this year's free-agent class. Approximately 200 players are eligible to file by the Nov. 11 deadline, and free agents can start talking money with all teams the following day.
Under new rules this offseason, free agents do not face any deadlines to re-sign with their former teams. In the past, players had to re-sign by Dec. 7 (or Jan. 8 if offered salary arbitration) or else could not return to their former teams until May 1. The deadlines were eliminated in baseball's new labor contract.
Among pitchers, the Chicago Cubs' Kerry Wood and Houston's Andy Pettitte could attract some interest. The Astros' Roger Clemens also is eligible, but the 44-year-old hasn't indicated whether he wants to pitch in 2007 or whether he'd consider leaving his hometown team.
Outfielder Luis Gonzalez, not wanted back by Arizona after eight seasons with the Diamondbacks, plans to play next year.
Bonds completed a $90 million, five-year contract with the Giants. He has 734 homers, 21 shy of Hank Aaron's record, but it isn't clear whether the Giants want him back. After missing most of 2005 because of a bad knee, Bonds batted .270 with 26 homers and 77 RBIs in 367 at-bats this year.
"A lot of players are somewhat nervous or apprehensive about becoming free agents because of all the uncertainty," Bonds' agent, Jeff Borris, said Saturday. "Barry has nerves of steel. That's also evident in the way he plays baseball."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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