Gonzalez agrees to 4-year deal with Padres
Gonzalez was coming off a breakout performance in his first full big league season, when he led the NL West champion Padres with a .304 average and 24 homers, and was second with 82 RBIs.
He was a local kid, and he'd been selected the team's MVP.
That "bump in the road," as general manager Kevin Towers called it, disappeared on Sunday, when Gonzalez agreed to a $9.5 million, four-year deal. The contract would be worth $15 million if the Padres exercise an option for $5.5 million in 2011.
"This is something that secures us and gives us the knowledge that we're going to be here," Gonzalez. "I mean, a trade's still always a possibility; we've learned that in the past. But we're very happy, my wife and I."
The 24-year-old Gonzalez seemed nonplussed by the whole experience.
"I'm not the type of guy to be looking into contracts," Gonzalez said. "I want to play on the field. That's what I worry about. I was glad for the opportunity that this came up. But it didn't bother me because I'm worried what I'm doing on the field, not off the field."
The sides began discussing the long-term deal about a week after the Padres renewed Gonzalez for $380,500. Although the Padres had the right to renew Gonzalez, the club was criticized in some quarters for giving him such a small raise.
The Padres initially offered $391,500, but rejected the deal after Gonzalez and agent John Boggs asked for $418,000 -- a 10 percent raise over the minimum.
At the time, Towers said Gonzalez was receiving a sizable raise given that the collective bargaining agreement increased the league minimum from $327,000 to $380,000 for 2007.
Towers said Sunday that the Padres had hoped to agree to a one-year deal, then begin negotiating a long-term contract.
"It certainly didn't work out that way," he said. "It's kind of difficult sometimes to explain the process and the thinking of it. It's part of the process. It's no different than going to arbitration with a player when you can't agree to terms."
Towers thanked Boggs, who also represents Hall of Famer-elect Tony Gwynn, for working through the process.
"Anytime you have those kind of renewals, a lot of times the dialogue stops and it can get somewhat ugly," Towers said. "We were able to kind of put that behind us and work through that. Hopefully this is mutually beneficial for all sides."
Gonzalez was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2000 amateur draft, by Florida, but never made it to the bigs with the Marlins. He was traded to Texas in 2003 and made his big league debut with the Rangers the following season.
The deal includes a $500,000 signing bonus plus salaries of $500,000 this season, $750,000 in 2008, $3 million in 2009 and $4.75 million in 2010.
"What kind of led us to this decision is not only is he a great baseball player, but we take it very seriously here in San Diego the kind of people we tie ourselves to long term, to wear that Padre uniform, to act, treat, not only our fans but many people in San Diego, in a very professional manner," Towers said. He's a tremendous role model. He represents the city and this organization very well."
The Padres originally suggested a deal of five years plus an option, but Boggs wanted four-plus-one. That way, the option year will be the last year Gonzalez is eligible for arbitration, and then he'll be eligible for free agency.
"He'll turn 29 during his first free-agent year," Boggs said. "He's going to have a long career ahead of him."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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