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Friday, October 27, 2006
Agent says Bonds will file for free agency quickly

Associated Press

Barry Bonds
Bonds

SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds plans to file for free agency the first day he can, and no negotiations have taken place with the Giants about keeping the slugger in San Francisco.

With the St. Louis Cardinals winning the World Series on Friday, Bonds is eligible to file for free agency Saturday.

"The only thing that would stop Barry from filing for free agency would be if a deal was in place from the Giants," Bonds' agent, Jeff Borris, said Friday in a phone interview. "Since there has been no dialogue up to this point, I have no reason to believe he would do anything but file for free agency."

Under baseball's new collective bargaining agreement, a five-year deal reached Tuesday night, there is less of a time constraint on the Giants and Bonds to get something done on a new contract.

The previous labor agreement mandated that if the Giants had not offered Bonds arbitration by Dec. 7, they would be unable to sign him until May 1. Now, the club can still negotiate with Bonds, 42, even if it doesn't offer him arbitration by the new Dec. 1 deadline.

"I don't think it helps, but it doesn't hurt either," Borris said.

While the agreement does buy San Francisco some time, Giants officials don't seem convinced they will have any better chance of re-signing Bonds for a 15th season.

"We haven't really studied it," executive vice president Larry Baer said Friday. "Every signing is going to be an undertaking. Whatever we do with Barry, it's got to be a mutual fit. We've got to want him and he's got to want us."

Bonds is prepared to test his market value.

The seven-time NL MVP's $90 million, five-year contract is up with San Francisco. He had indicated he would like to return to the Giants, but that was before owner Peter Magowan said on Oct. 2 that if Bonds returns No. 25 will no longer be the centerpiece for this franchise.

"We haven't engaged. I don't know what their disposition is," general manager Brian Sabean said after the team introduced Bruce Bochy as the club's new manager Friday.

Bonds has spent 14 of his 21 big-league seasons with San Francisco and helped the Giants draw 3 million fans in all seven seasons of their waterfront ballpark's existence.

Bonds has 734 home runs, 22 from breaking Hank Aaron's career record of 755. After missing all but 14 games in 2005 following three operations on his right knee, Bonds batted .270 with 26 homers and 77 RBI in 367 at-bats in 2006.

"Obviously he has an affection for San Francisco and I think he would be back," Giants first baseman Mark Sweeney said.

Bonds will likely be interested in gauging the interest of the Los Angeles Angels and Dodgers. He lives in Southern California in Beverly Hills.

"We will do our due diligence to explore all possible opportunities," Borris said.

Bochy was asked his thoughts on Bonds, who has hit 85 of his home runs against the skipper's former club -- the San Diego Padres. That's Bonds' highest total against any team.

"I've known Barry quite a few years. Unfortunately I've been on the other side and seen quite a few balls leave the ballpark," Bochy said. "I have not made any decision on Barry Bonds. Barry Bonds is on this ballclub and I look forward to managing Barry Bonds."

That is, if Bonds is still wearing a Giants jersey come spring training.