Bonds' agent, Giants apparently not at offer stage

Updated: December 5, 2006, 4:49 PM ET
By Jayson Stark | ESPN.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The San Francisco Giants' brass spoke twice with Barry Bonds' agent, Jeff Borris, on Monday night, but Borris declined to say whether the two sides had reached the stage where they were exchanging offers.

Alou's return in the works
Felipe Alou
Alou

The Giants are nearing a deal that would keep former manager Felipe Alou with the organization in a senior adviser role as a special assistant to general manager Brian Sabean.

The job would include some travel -- agreed upon by both parties -- and would allow Alou to be based at home in South Florida. Pat Dobson, a special assistant to Sabean this year during his ninth season with the club, died suddenly Nov. 22 from leukemia.

"It's very close to becoming official," Sabean said.

The Giants didn't renew the 71-year-old Alou's contract after three seasons as manager. But he had said he would like to stay in baseball in 2007 -- possibly with the Giants, the franchise that signed him as a player out of the Dominican Republic in 1955.

After winning 100 games and the NL West in his first season in 2003, the Giants did not make the playoffs in Alou's final three years. He had a 76-85 mark in 2006, ending his tenure with a 342-304 record.
-- Associated Press

"I can't really say on that," Borris said, "because I want to respect the integrity of the process and the Giants' privacy."

However, it's notable that Borris had a lengthy phone conversation early Monday evening with Giants general manager Brian Sabean, who is attending the winter meetings, and Giants executive vice president and COO Larry Baer, who is still in San Francisco.

Baer then initiated a second call late Monday night.

The sides have agreed not to describe their negotiations in detail. But there have been continuing indications that each side is frustrated with the other. Borris' public criticism of the Giants last weekend over the team's pursuit of Carlos Lee, Manny Ramirez and other potential replacements for Bonds may have fueled even more of those frustrations.

Borris continues to indicate that other clubs are actively speaking with him about Bonds. And after complaining last weekend that the Giants had allowed negotiations to drag on this long, he told ESPN.com that Bonds "understands the Giants have a business plan that doesn't include him. But in all fairness, Barry's business plan might not include them, either."

On Monday night, Borris would go only so far as to say, "I've said all along that if a deal gets done, it should be in a spirit of good faith. I don't like pointing guns at each other's head or drawing lines in the sand. If a deal gets done, it should get done in good faith. And if it's not in the cards, so be it."

Sabean said Bonds, a free agent, is healthy coming off elbow surgery.

"We need a presence, a fourth hitter," Sabean told The Associated Press. "Obviously, he can still play baseball. He can still hit a baseball and is a threat in the middle of the lineup. ... Does it make baseball sense? Yes."

The seven-time NL MVP's $90 million, five-year contract expired after the 2006 season. Bonds has indicated he would like to return to the Giants, but that was before owner Peter Magowan said on Oct. 2 that if Bonds returns he will no longer be the centerpiece of the franchise.

Bonds has spent 14 of his 21 big league seasons with San Francisco and helped the Giants draw 3 million fans in all seven seasons of their waterfront ballpark's existence.

Bonds has 734 home runs, 22 from breaking Aaron's mark. After missing all but 14 games in 2005 following three operations on his right knee, Bonds batted .270 with 26 homers and 77 RBI in 367 at-bats in 2006.

Meanwhile on Monday, the Giants agreed to terms on a two-year, $8 million contract with first baseman Rich Aurilia and a one-year, $5.1 million deal with third baseman Pedro Feliz. The team also was closing in on a three-year contract with catcher Bengie Molina.

Second baseman Ray Durham was re-signed to a two-year, $14.5 million contract Friday and 11-time Gold Glove shortstop Omar Vizquel is signed through the 2007 season.

Feliz flew from the Dominican Republic to Central Florida on Monday to undergo a physical by team doctor Ken Akizuki and other medical staff.

Aurilia, who took a physical on Saturday, will make $3.5 million in 2007 and $4.5 million in '08 and can earn an additional $250,000 each for 300, 350, 400, 450 and 500 plate appearances. His deal had been in the works for more than a week.

"It feels great," Aurilia said by conference call. "I'm very excited about it for a number of reasons. First of all, it's a chance to play in a place that feels like home for me."

He can play any infield position, but Bochy and Sabean said Monday that Aurilia will spend most of his time at first base.

The 31-year-old Feliz, who can make about $500,000 more in performance bonuses, batted .244 and matched his career high with 22 home runs last season, when he had a regular position for the first time in his six-plus major league seasons. He had a team-leading 98 RBI and played in a career-high 160 games.

Feliz played all but 44 1/3 innings on defense, acknowledging Monday that maybe he was a little bit tired in the second half. His 15 homers and 62 RBI in 89 games before the All-Star break were the most by a San Francisco third baseman since Matt Williams had 17 homers and 68 RBI in 1996.

"It might have affected my second half a little bit," said Feliz, sporting a bushy beard and longer, curly hair for the winter. "I'm going to get better in everything. I've used the whole field before more than I have lately."

Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Jayson Stark | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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