NEW YORK -- Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants reached
agreement on a $16 million, one-year contract Thursday night that
will keep the controversial slugger in the Bay Area to take aim at
baseball's home run record.
The deal includes four performance bonuses that could make the
pact worth a total of $20 million, a person familiar with the
negotiations told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of
anonymity because there had been no official announcement.
While Oakland, San Diego, St. Louis and other teams showed
interest in signing the 42-year-old free agent, the Giants had been
considered the front-runners to re-sign their star.
Bonds has 734 home runs and is 22 from breaking Hank Aaron's
career record. He has played 14 seasons for the Giants and is
coming off a $90 million, five-year contract.
Bonds missed nearly the entire 2005 season after three
operations on his right knee, prompting speculation on whether he
was almost done. But the left fielder bounced back this year to
play 130 games, hitting .270 with 26 homers and 77 RBIs.
Shadowed by allegations of steroid use and a target of boo-birds
in many opposing parks, Bonds has remained a fan favorite in the
Bay Area. He has been tied to the Giants by family and history --
his dad, Bobby, was a popular player with the team; his godfather,
Willie Mays, is regarded as the greatest Giant of them all.
The Giants will host the All-Star game next year, and can
certainly build the event around Bonds as he nears Aaron's mark.
A seven-time NL MVP, a 13-time All-Star and an eight-time Gold
Glove winner, Bonds has stolen more than 500 bases and is
baseball's all-time leaders in walks.
Bonds met Wednesday with his former Pirates manager and
now-Detroit skipper Jim Leyland, who is close friends with St.
Louis manager Tony La Russa.
San Francisco cut ties with manager Felipe Alou after going
76-85 this season, and saw his son, outfielder Moises Alou, sign a
free-agent deal with the New York Mets. Pitcher Jason Schmidt is
working to finalize an agreement with the Dodgers.
Bruce Bochy was hired away from San Diego to manage San
Francisco. Among the first things Bochy did after joining the
Giants was phone Bonds.
The day after this season ended, Giants owner Peter Magowan said
Bonds would not be the team's main cog if he returned in 2007.
"I think we need to go in a new direction," Magowan said in
early October. "We have for a long time had a strategy that has
worked well until the last two years, when it hasn't worked so
well. The strategy has been one of having a great player -- maybe
the greatest player in the game -- at the centerpiece and filling in
with veteran players.
"For a long time that worked well. It caught up with us the
past couple of years. Now we do need to get younger and
healthier," he said.
Shortly before Thanksgiving, Magowan called the Bonds camp to
clarify his remarks and say he did not mean to offend the star.
When the Giants did not offer salary arbitration to Bonds last
week, agent Jeff Borris was miffed.
Borris said it spoke "volumes of their true intentions to have
him back in a Giants uniform for the 2007 season."
"It has been well documented that the Giants were trying to
sign Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Lee, Gary Matthews and Juan Pierre,"
Borris said. "And they have been working diligently in trying to
trade for Manny Ramirez. The Giants' actions demonstrate that Barry
obviously is not a priority to them."
Once the baseball winter meetings began, however, Borris and the
Giants talked several times.
At this point in his career, only one thing is missing on Bonds'
major league resume: a World Series ring.
Bonds has reached the postseason in seven different seasons, but
made it to the World Series only in 2002 against the Anaheim
Angels. With a chance to win the championship, the Giants blew a
late 5-0 lead in Game 6 and lost, then lost Game 7.
Despite the defeat, Bonds hit .471 with four homers and had a
.700 on-base percentage against the Angels. Overall, he is a .245
career hitter in the postseason.