Certainly, the Giants have been active in the free agent market, proving unable to land Pierre, Matthews and Lee, who signed with the Dodgers, Angels and Astros, respectively. The team, which has not reached the playoffs since 2003, is set to announce the signing of Padres outfielder Dave Roberts on Saturday.That deal will be followed shortly by the announcement of agreements with Reds infielder Rich Aurilia and Blue Jays catcher Bengie Molina. But to characterize the nature of negotiations with Bonds as gaining seriousness at this point would be a misnomer, Borris said. "That would be an extremely premature statement," he said. "Overly optimistic and not a fair characterization of the discussions." Under the rules of a new Basic Agreement, the fact that the Giants didn't offer Bonds arbitration may be merely symbolic. Unlike the past, the Giants can continue to negotiate with Bonds up to and into the regular season. They simply won't get draft-pick compensation if he signs with another team. The possibility of that happening is still a matter of conjecture. 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. Borris declined to comment about the nature of negotiations with other clubs on Friday night, although he did say that the arbitration deadline wasn't really an issue. "With a player of Barry's stature, I don't believe that draft-pick compensation really comes into the picture," Borris said. "Obviously it's an issue with some teams more than others. But I don't think anyone was worried about losing a first-round draft pick to the Giants if they signed Barry." Of course, that is no longer an issue. Asked when negotiations could wrap up, Borris said, "It's conceivable that Barry could sign a contract with a club by Opening Day. Do I think that that's likely? No. But it's hard for me to give a timetable at this point. Obviously, the Winter Meetings are in two days. I'm sure there will be a lot of activity at that point. How fast can a deal happen? Deals can happen very fast. Teams can cut to the chase very quickly."
Barry M. Bloom is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.