Monday, July 14, 2008
Agent: Little chance Bonds will play in majors this season
By Jerry Crasnick
NEW YORK -- Barry Bonds' agent, frustrated by the baseballwide lack of interest in his client, said Monday that he has all but given up hope of finding a job for the home run king in 2008.
Agent Jeff Borris said he recently offered Bonds' services to "numerous" clubs for the major league-minimum salary of $390,000. When Borris couldn't find a taker, he concluded that Bonds will not be playing in the big leagues this season.
"I offered Barry at the minimum salary, and when I ran into a brick wall, that's when I came to the conclusion that he will not be in a major league uniform in 2008," said Borris, in New York for the All-Star Game.
"I'm not a negative person. I'm one of those 'never say never' guys," Borris added. "But it seems pretty clear to me that it's just not happening. We could go up and down the rosters of every single team and I could show you an awful lot of spots where he ought to be plugged in right now, but it's just not happening."
Bonds, who broke Hank Aaron's career home run record with No. 756 last August and finished the season at 762, became a free agent when the San Francisco Giants decided to part ways with him in September. Along with Mike Piazza, Sammy Sosa, Kenny Lofton and several other veteran players, he went unsigned on the open market last winter.
In November, Bonds was indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice for allegedly lying to a federal grand jury in 2003, when he denied any use of performance-enhancing drugs. He pleaded not guilty to a revised set of charges in June, and the case is scheduled to go to trial in March 2009.
Borris said he turned over information about his negotiations to the Players Association, which expressed concerns to commissioner Bud Selig's office about the lack of offers to Bonds. While the union has investigated the possibility of collusion, it has not filed a formal grievance.
Borris, however, expressed his skepticism Monday.
"If everything were fair and equal in the world, Barry should get a fair market value offer," he said. "But since everything is not fair and equal, I decided to offer him for the minimum. I thought for sure there would be a taker, and there were none. If that doesn't raise the level of suspicion, I don't know what does."
Bonds continues to work out at home in California, and Borris said it wouldn't take long for him to be ready to play in the big leagues. The agent took issue with the notion that Bonds is strictly a designated hitter. He pointed out that Bonds made four errors in 110 games in left field in 2007.
"If you look at his numbers in the outfield last year, he didn't embarrass himself," Borris said. "Is he the defensive gazelle that he was back in the '80s and '90s? No. But there are a lot of other outfielders I see out there who are not as good as him right now. And even if he were just average, couple that with his bat and a $390,000 salary and you have a can't-miss."
Bonds' name has come up periodically in speculation in recent months, with the Seattle Mariners, Arizona Diamondbacks, New York Mets and Boston Red Sox mentioned as potential landing spots. But none of the clubs linked to Bonds has come close to taking the plunge.
"The rumors about Arizona, the Mets and Boston are completely false. He never had a secret workout with the Red Sox," Borris said. "I've had numerous conversations with all three organizations, back to the time when Barry became a free agent in November of '07, and none of those clubs are interested in him. Barry would play for any one of those clubs if they extended an offer. Would he make a difference in the standings? I think so, no matter what team he played for."
Bonds hit .276 last year with 28 home runs, 66 RBIs and a major league-high 132 walks. He was the prime focus of the All-Star Game last July when it was held at the Giants' waterfront ballpark.
Mets closer Billy Wagner missed Bonds.
"I hate that he's not here," the six-time All-Star reliever said. "Barry usually gave me a ride to the stadium."
Bonds turns 44 later this month. Even if he were acquitted of the perjury charges next season, it would be difficult for him to come back at an advanced level after such an extended layoff. That means it's probably this year or never.
"It's an unfortunate situation," Borris said. "I feel bad for Barry. I think he's deserving of better. He gave his heart and soul to this game, and I think he deserves to go out on his own terms. And obviously that's not what's happening."
Jerry Crasnick covers Major League Baseball for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.