Bonds to file for free agency

Bonds to file for free agency

ST. LOUIS -- Barry Bonds will file for free agency as soon as the period opens at midnight a day after the end of the World Series, his agent said on Friday when reached via telephone in Los Angeles.

The soon-to-be former Giants slugger, who is 21 home runs behind Hank Aaron's all-time Major League-leading 755, did the same thing in 2001 after he hit 73 homers to break Mark McGwire's then three-year-old single-season record. Ultimately, he re-signed with the Giants and remained in San Francisco for five more years.

"At the conclusion of the World Series, Barry will file for free agency, even though it's nothing more than a procedural formality," said Jeff Borris, a representative for the Beverly Hills Sports Council and Bonds' agent. "We've had no dialogue with the Giants up to this point, so we have no alterative."

Giants general manager Brian Sabean said he has been highly involved with the team's managerial search -- which reached fruition on Friday when they signed former Padres skipper Bruce Bochy to a three-year deal -- and there has been no decision about re-signing Bonds.

"Over the weekend we'll turn to the coaches, and next week to what we're going to do with the players," Sabean said when reached by telephone in San Francisco. "It gets complicated because Bochy has to go to Japan for the next week [to manage the Major League Baseball All-Stars], but we'll get there."

Bochy has long been a fan of Bonds, and expressed that sentiment during the interview process, Sabean said.

"He has a tremendous amount of respect for [Bonds]," Sabean said. "Hey, Barry hit enough homers against him."

Bonds has hit 84 homers against the Padres, far and away his most against any single club, with 42 of them coming in San Diego -- 39 at Jack Murphy/Qualcomm Stadium and three at PETCO Park, which opened in 2004.

The Giants finished this past season 76-85 and in third place, 11 1/2 games behind the National League West-winning Padres. A day later, they declined to renew the contract of incumbent manager Felipe Alou.

Bonds is one of 11 free agents that could leave the Giants this offseason, and Sabean said he expected all of them to file.

"They usually do it sooner, rather than later," he said.

The pinnacle of the season for Bonds came on May 28 when the left-handed hitter finally blasted his 715th homer off Colorado's Byung-Hyun Kim at AT&T Park to pass Babe Ruth into second place on the all-time list. Playing on a thrice-surgically repaired right knee and with bone chips in his left elbow, it took nearly two months for Bonds to hit the seven homers necessary to eclipse the Babe.

Bonds finished with a National League-record 735 homers, 26 on the season, tied with Ray Durham for best on the team. That figure was the most ever for a player who celebrated his 42nd birthday during the course of that season. His .454 on-base percentage led the Major Leagues and was the highest since 1894 for a player his age with more than 300 plate appearances.

Bonds also led the NL with 115 walks, extending his record MLB career mark to 2,426. He hit .270 with 23 doubles, 77 runs batted in and 74 runs scored in 130 games, even though he was batting .235 as late as Aug. 19. He also finished 159 short of the 3,000th hit mark and 69 RBIs away from 2,000.

A day after the conclusion of the season, Bonds had bone chips removed from his elbow and has fully recovered.

Under the new rules of the Basic Agreement, the Giants have until Dec. 1 to offer Bonds arbitration and he must accept or reject the offer by Dec. 7. Unlike the old rules, the Giants can continue to negotiate with Bonds up to and into the regular season even if they decline to offer Bonds arbitration.

In 2001, the Giants offered arbitration and Bonds accepted, thus taking himself off the market. That offseason, Bonds signed a five-year, $90 million deal, which just ended.

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.