Bonds gives Giants right to terminate deal

Updated: January 31, 2007, 11:58 AM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Even after signing a contract, Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants might not agree on what it means.

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Bonds' $15.8 million, one-year agreement contains a provision giving the club the right to void the deal if he is indicted, but the outfielder's agent says the language is unenforceable under baseball's collective bargaining agreement.

The unusual provision, included in the deal that was completed Monday night, is designed by the team to protect itself in case Bonds is charged in the federal government's steroids investigation. Bonds' personal trainer, Greg Anderson, is in a California federal prison because he has refused to testify whether Bonds committed perjury when he told a 2003 grand jury he never knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs.

In the contract, a list of criminal acts is spelled out in a section.

"Player acknowledges and agrees that an indictment for any criminal act under [that section] ... is proper grounds for termination of this contract," Bonds' contract states.

"Player also acknowledges and agrees that he will not grieve, appeal or otherwise challenge any club action to terminate this contract as a result of player's indictment for any criminal acts [specified] ... nor will he cause or authorize any third party, such as the Major League Baseball Players Association, to grieve, appeal or otherwise challenge any club action to terminate this contract as a result of players' indictment for any [specified] criminal acts."

The language in the contract was read to The Associated Press by a person with a copy of the agreement.

Complicating matters, Bonds' contract was not approved by the commissioner's office because it contained a personal-appearance provision, a baseball executive said Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity because those details had not been made public.

Bonds' agent, Jeff Borris, said late Tuesday the team was redrafting the agreement and sending him a revised version by express mail for Bonds to review and sign.

Borris said the additional language in Bonds' contract would be unenforceable if the matter were litigated because baseball's collective bargaining agreement would take precedence. Because of that, Borris said the inclusion of the added provision is meaningless.

"Although it is not my policy to comment on the specifics of an individual player's contract, the reporting that Barry will allow the Giants to get out of his contract if he is indicted on the federal steroid investigation is inaccurate," he said. "The collective bargaining agreement governs the work relationship between the owners and players, not the Giants' unilateral assertions."

The special termination language in Bonds' agreement references two sections of the Uniform Player Contract.

Under 7(b)(1), a team may terminate a contract if the player shall "fail, refuse or neglect to conform his personal conduct to the standards of good citizenship and good sportsmanship or to keep himself in first-class physical condition or to obey the club's training rules."

Section 7(b)(3) gives the team the right to end the deal if a player shall "fail, refuse or neglect to render his services hereunder or in any manner materially breach this contract."

In addition, the Giants have the less drastic option of converting Bonds' deal to nonguaranteed, the baseball executive said. Players with nonguaranteed contracts can be released before opening day for 30 or 45 days' termination pay, depending on the timing.

Bonds became a free agent after completing a $90 million, five-year contract, and the sides agreed to the financial terms of a new contract Dec. 7. His new deal allows him to earn $4.2 million in performance bonuses: $500,000 for 250 plate appearances, $1 million each for 300, 375 and 450, and $700,000 for 525.

Under the new agreement, two of Bonds' trainers -- Harvey Shields and Greg Oliver -- no longer will be on the Giants' payroll. They also won't be permitted in restricted areas in any major league ballpark, such as the clubhouse.

"I have no problems with it," Bonds said. "[Oliver] and Harvey will be with me, just outside the ballpark."

As part of the agreement, Bonds gets to use a luxury suite at AT&T Park for five games and gets five free lower box seats for all road games. He also gets a hotel suite on road trips.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press