Bonds, Giants finalize deal
Slugger will resume chase to Aaron home run record
NEW YORK -- Nearly two months after the San Francisco Giants agreed in principle to re-sign Barry Bonds for the 2007 season, the club and the left fielder completed terms on Monday night, finally ironing out complicated language in the contract that has been a matter of lengthy negotiations.After passing the requisite physical earlier in the day, Bonds officially signed the one-year, $15.8 million deal, and will be placed on the 40-man roster, guaranteeing that the lefty-swinging slugger will join the Giants for a 15th season. Thus, familiar No. 25 will be back in the cleanup spot as Bonds continues his pursuit of Hank Aaron's Major League all-time home run record. "I knew things would work out," Bonds said during a conference call on Monday night. "This is where I've always wanted to play. This is where I've always been comfortable playing. San Francisco is what I love. The people in San Francisco are who I love. There's no better place to play than in San Francisco. This is my history and the people in San Francisco deserve it all." General manager Brian Sabean said that he had no doubt the contract would eventually get done. And Peter Magowan, the team's president and managing general partner, reiterated that belief. "Our first contract with Barry in 1992 only took 45 seconds and this took considerably longer," Magowan told MLB.com. "We felt confident Barry would re-sign, but there was always the possibility he could retire, or go to the American League and DH. There were no guarantees." Bonds, 42, goes into 2007 with 734 homers, 21 behind Aaron's magic 755. Bonds hit his 715th long ball to pass Babe Ruth into second place on the all-time list this past May 28 at AT&T Park against the Rockies. Bonds said he would be back in 2008 whether he passes Aaron this season or not.
"I think I'm staying around until I'm a hundred," he said. "So that's a 'yes.' I'm going to keep playing."Also during the 13-minute call, Bonds declined to comment on a New York Daily News report earlier this month that he had failed a test for using amphetamines last season. He also declared that the same report was false when it stated that he had taken the pills out of the locker of teammate Mark Sweeney. "My relationship with Mark Sweeney is phenomenal," Bonds said. "We're very good friends. We're fine. Those reports were false. They're false. Mark Sweeney never did anything wrong. Period." Bonds had surgery to remove bone chips from his left elbow at the conclusion of the 2006 season and is fully recovered from the trio of arthroscopic surgeries on his right knee that shortened his 2005 season to 14 games.
Bonds said both joints feel good, but he would better be able to evaluate their condition when he begins to play."I can't answer that question right now," he said. "I can't determine that until I get back out on the field. When you're practicing, you're practicing at one level. When you get into the games, you're intensity level goes a lot higher. I'll be able to determine that when we get to more of a game environment." Bonds earned $18 million in 2006, the last of a five-year, $90 million contract, and can pick up an extra $4.2 million in incentives this time around if he reaches certain performance clauses. He played in 130 games last season and tied for the club lead with 26 homers, led the National League with 115 walks and the Major Leagues with a .454 on-base percentage. Magowan said that the incentives are tied to statistics like games played and plate appearances. The Giants, who agreed to sign 10 free agents this offseason, had trouble closing the deals with all of them because of guarantee language in the contracts that their representatives found objectionable. John Boggs, the agent for outfielder Dave Roberts, who agreed to move from San Diego, said recently that the language had been rescinded and that his client had moved forward to close his deal. Indeed, Sabean said on Monday night that the only remaining contracts to be finished are with Barry Zito and Ryan Klesko. "This isn't unusual in baseball," Sabean said. "Some guys don't sign until they get to Spring Training." Unlike Bonds, the other nine free agents had signed term sheets, binding each player to the club. Bonds, instead, declined to sign a term sheet until Monday when all of the language was negotiated, although Jeff Borris, his agent, said that all economic terms had been resolved on Dec. 7, the night Bonds agreed in principle to return to the club. The unsigned term sheet became an issue when the report of Bonds rumored failed test emerged. But any failed test is handled under rules of the Basic Agreement and no Major League club can penalize a player above and beyond those rules. For an initial failed amphetamines test, a player goes into a clinical tract and is subject to increased testing. A second failed test nets a 25-game suspension. Neither the Giants nor Bonds would discuss the differences that arose regarding contract language, although Bonds did acknowledge that long-time personal trainers Harvey Shields and Greg Oliver are no longer on the Giants payroll and won't be allowed in the clubhouse. "I have no problem with it," Bonds said. "They work for me and we'll just be working away from the ballpark. I have no problems with that at all."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.