BONDS, Giambi and five Yankees among 104 who file for free agency

Tuesday, November 6th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ The free-agent market opened with what may be the most players ever to file in one day.

Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and five members of the AL champion New York Yankees were among 104 players to file Monday.

Nearly two-thirds of the 161 players potentially eligible filed on the first day. In the past, relatively few players became free agents on the day following the World Series, the opening of the 15-day filing period.

The large number this year may reflect a rush by players to become free agents before the expiration of baseball's collective bargaining agreement at midnight Tuesday. Unless teams decide to lock out players, free agents can sign with new teams starting Nov. 20.

Bonds, who set a season record for home runs by hitting 73 for San Francisco, faces an uncertain market because of his age (37), his lack of postseason success and complaints by teammates that he demands preferential treatment.

Giambi figures to be among the most highly sought free agents after helping the Oakland Athletics reach the playoffs the past two seasons.

Chan Ho Park of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the top available pitcher in the market, filed Monday, as did Cleveland outfielder Juan Gonzalez, Atlanta right-hander John Smoltz, Houston outfielder Moises Alou and San Diego outfielder Tony Gwynn, who is retiring.

In the start of what figures to be a major transformation of the Yankees, who lost Game 7 of the World Series to Arizona on Sunday night, first baseman Tino Martinez filed along with third baseman Scott Brosius, left fielder Chuck Knoblauch, infielder Randy Velarde and reliever Mark Wohlers.

Two Diamondbacks filed on the first day: pitchers Bobby Witt and Mike Mohler. Nine players filed from the Boston Red Sox, while eight each filed from Atlanta and Houston and seven filed from Seattle.

David Wells filed after the Chicago White Sox declined to exercise his $10 million option for next season.

Cleveland reliever Bob Wickman, who had been eligible for free agency, instead agreed to a $15.9 million, three-year contract with the Indians, a signal the team may cut loose controversial pitcher John Rocker.

Rocker is eligible for salary arbitration in February, and the Indians may not want to pay a high salary to a pitcher who was not effective for much of this year.

San Diego second baseman Damian Jackson, also eligible for arbitration, agreed to a $625,000, one-year contract.