Arbitration offer unlikely for Bonds

Giants not expected to offer Bonds arbitration

The San Francisco Giants aren't expected to offer arbitration to free-agent left fielder Barry Bonds, the second-leading home run hitter in Major League history, sources with knowledge of the negotiations said Thursday.

Under the rules of a new Basic Agreement that has yet to be ratified by the Players Association, the Giants can continue to negotiate with Bonds up to and into the regular season. Bonds filed for free agency immediately after the end of the World Series, and negotiations with the club he has played with for the last 14 seasons have been slow, although Larry Baer, the team's vice president and chief operating officer, has had at least one face-to-face meeting with Jeff Borris, Bonds' agent, in Los Angeles.

All Major League Baseball free-agent arbitration decisions must be determined by 9 p.m. PT Friday. A Giants spokesman declined to confirm or deny the club's position regarding Bonds when reached in San Francisco on Thursday. And Borris said that he would have a comment about the situation once he's officially informed whether his client has been offered arbitration.

Borris continued to say that there has been a lot of discussion about Bonds, who would go into the 2007 season with 734 homers, 21 behind Hank Aaron's Major League-record 755.

"I continue to have dialogue with the Giants, as well as other clubs, on a daily basis," Borris said.

Two weeks ago, Bonds had interest from the Oakland A's and the San Diego Padres, but those negotiations have gone into a holding pattern as free-agent outfielders such as Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Lee and Juan Pierre have signed with the Cubs, Astros and Dodgers, respectively. Outfielder J.D. Drew, who opted out of his Dodgers contract, is reportedly on the cusp of signing with the Red Sox, while Dave Roberts seems to be destined for the Giants.

Including Bonds, the Giants still have nine unsigned free agents pending from last season's club. They had 11 at the end of the season, but outfielder Moises Alou has already gone to the New York Mets and reliever Mike Stanton to the Cincinnati Reds.

Under the old rules of the Basic Agreement, a team had until Dec. 7 to determine whether to offer a free agent arbitration, and if it didn't, it could no longer negotiate with him. If it did, and the player declined to accept, negotiations could continue until Jan. 8. But once that date passed, the team couldn't negotiate again until May 1 if the player was still on the market.

Under the new rules, the date of offering arbitration has been moved up a week and players have until Dec. 7 to accept. By offering arbitration, a team reserves its right to draft-pick compensation if the player signs elsewhere. The other dates and restrictions have been eliminated.

The Giants are awaiting the arbitration deadline before announcing the free-agent signings of Roberts and Reds infielder Rich Aurilia. Roberts played for new Giants manager Bruce Bochy in San Diego the last two seasons, while Aurilia played shortstop in San Francisco from 1995 to 2003.

Other clubs seem to be waiting for the same deadline before making a serious attempt at signing Bonds, who used the old rules to his advantage in 2001, the last time he was on the market. At the time, the Giants offered arbitration and Bonds accepted. The two sides never went to arbitration, ultimately agreeing on a five-year, $90 million deal, which just ended.

This time, the Giants are not enamored with the prospect of losing a large arbitration award to the 42-year-old Bonds, who earned $18 million last season. In 2006, Bonds shared the team lead with 26 homers, added 77 runs batted in and 74 runs scored and led Major League Baseball with a .454 on-base percentage.

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.