Bonds arrives to join negotiations

Bonds arrives to join negotiations

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The negotiations to sign Barry Bonds for next season intensified Wednesday when his agent confirmed that the second-leading home run hitter in Major League history had arrived at the Winter Meetings.

Agent Jeff Borris said Wednesday morning in a text message that Bonds, a free agent who has been with the Giants since 1993, was here and has joined in negotiations with various clubs, including San Francisco.

Giants general manager Brian Sabean said Tuesday night that the two sides were not close financially.

"We're not in the same ballpark yet," Sabean said late Tuesday afternoon in an interview with KPIX, a San Francisco television station.

Sabean declined to amplify on the comment, but confirmed it to

"It stands as it is," he said.

In the last two weeks, Bonds' camp has had discussions with the Oakland A's and San Diego Padres. The Baltimore Orioles reportedly have also shown interest.

Borris declined to comment about Sabean's assessment, saying only that all the parties involved were scheduled to meet during the early evening, either via conference call or in person at the hotel where this year's meetings are being staged.

Later in the evening, Borris said in a text message that he was not going to hold court in the hotel lobby on Tuesday night.

"[Wednesday] will be a long day," he said.

Bonds earned $18 million this past season, the last of a five-year, $90 million deal he signed the last time he was a free agent -- after a 2001 season in which he hit 73 home runs to break what was then Mark McGwire's three-year-old single-season record.

Bonds is seeking a one-year deal (with a one-year option) at terms comparable to last season.

Sabean made it clear Monday that the Giants want the left-handed slugger back as he pursues Hank Aaron's all-time Major League record of 755 homers. Bonds is sitting in second place at 734, 21 behind Aaron.

The 42-year-old Bonds tied for the club lead last season with 26 homers, added 74 runs scored and 77 runs batted in and led Major League Baseball with a .454 on-base percentage.

Sabean agreed Monday that it makes "baseball sense" to bring Bonds back. But probably not at that price. The Giants have already signed four players this offseason. Since Friday, they have re-signed second baseman Ray Durham and third baseman Pedro Feliz, while adding outfielder Dave Roberts and infielder Rich Aurilia. A potential deal for catcher Bengie Molina is pending an examination later in the week on Mike Matheny, the veteran catcher who has been out since May because of post-concussion syndrome.

As they negotiate with Bonds, the Giants have other holes to fill and must set aside some money to remain competitive. Their top starter, Jason Schmidt, will apparently leave as a free agent. Plus, they are shy a first baseman, and the bullpen needs almost a complete retrofit.

Still, new manager Bruce Bochy said Tuesday he was optimistic that No. 25 would be back next season to fill his accustomed cleanup spot.

"I have no reason not to be at this point," Bochy said. "I know this is part of baseball -- the negotiations -- but I know Brian is talking to Barry and his agent as we speak. I have no reason not to be optimistic."

Except for Bonds' appearance at the funeral of senior Giants partner Harmon Burns last month, there has been little or no contact between the lefty-swinging slugger and the club, whose uniform he's been wearing for the past 14 seasons.

Borris said during a chat in the hotel lobby late Monday night that at times, Sabean, Larry Baer, the team's chief operating officer, and Peter Magowan, its managing general partner, have all been involved in the negotiations. But the only face-to-face meeting was an excursion Baer made to Los Angeles -- where both Bonds and Borris live -- last month.

On Monday, the parties spoke several times on the phone even though Sabean and Borris are inhabiting the same building.

Bochy said he tried to call Bonds last month after replacing the departed Felipe Alou as manager.

"I left a message and said, 'At some point, let's sit down and talk,'" Bochy said. "He's wanted, but there are negotiations. That's part of it."

Borris acknowledged that the conversation between player and manager is welcome, although the two haven't spoken yet.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.