Bonds, Giants reach agreement on $16 million, 1-year deal

Friday, December 8th 2006, 6:07 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ Barry Bonds is ready to resume his home run chase in a familiar place.

After attracting interest from several teams, Bonds and the San Francisco Giants reached agreement on a $16 million, one-year deal Thursday night that will keep the controversial slugger in the Bay Area.

Despite a bit of sniping by both sides, the 42-year-old Bonds decided to re-sign for a 15th season with San Francisco. It was a natural fit _ he wanted to set the home run record in a Giants uniform, they didn't want to see him do it for anyone else.

Bonds has 734 homers, only 22 from breaking Hank Aaron's career record. The Giants certainly will benefit at the gate as he approaches the mark and, with San Francisco hosting the All-Star game next year, can build the event around him.

Shadowed by allegations of steroid use and a target of boo-birds in many opposing parks, Bonds has remained a fan favorite at home. He is 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 deal includes four performance bonuses that could make it 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.

Oakland, San Diego, St. Louis, Detroit and Tampa Bay were among the clubs that called Bonds' representatives once he filed for free agency. All along, however, the Giants were regarded as the front-runners to keep him.

Coming off a $90 million, five-year contract, Bonds traveled this week to baseball's winter meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., hoping to speed along the process.

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.

The World Series champions Cardinals expressed early interest in Bonds, and there was talk they might take a late run at him.

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 home runs and 77 RBIs.

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.

The Giants have been busy since the season ended. They re-signed Ray Durham and Pedro Feliz and also signed free agents Dave Roberts, Rich Aurilia and Bengie Molina.

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.

``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.''

``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.