Will Bonds, Clemens play in 2008?

Will Bonds, Clemens play in 2008?

One is an 11-time All-Star who leads all active pitchers in wins. The other holds the career record for home runs and is a 14-time All-Star, including last season.

Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens have more in common than their records and star-studded resumes, however, as both free agents have yet to sign 2008 contracts, and their status for the coming season remains very much in doubt.

Will they play? At this point, perhaps not even Bonds and Clemens can say for certain.


The Giants have already cut ties with Bonds, whose status for 2008 is in doubt after he was indicted by a federal grand jury on four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice for allegedly lying when he said he did not use performance-enhancing drugs in testimony given before another grand jury in 2003. Bonds is free on a $500,000 bond.

Oakland was a potential landing site for Bonds, but after trading away Dan Haren, Nick Swisher and Mark Kotsay the A's are clearly in a rebuilding mode and thus unlikely to go after Bonds, even assuming he puts his legal troubles behind him.

And yet, if Bonds' off-the-field issues are resolved, there is no reason to think another team wouldn't be interested in adding his bat to the lineup for a pennant race. The seven-time National League Most Valuable Player Award winner batted .276 with 28 homers and 66 RBIs in 340 at-bats last season, and led the league in walks, on-base percentage and on-base plus slugging. He doesn't turn 44 until July, which makes you think Bonds would have another productive season at the plate, especially if he doesn't have the legal problems following his every step.

As with Clemens, retirement seems to be the likely destination for Bonds. But, if he resolves the legal problems, don't rule out his landing a designated hitter job with a contender next season.


If Clemens, who turns 46 in August, returns for a 25th season, it apparently won't be with the Yankees. Yankees senior vice president Hank Steinbrenner told the New York Daily News that he would not re-sign the right-hander. Clemens went 6-6 with a 4.18 ERA in 18 games (17 starts) for the Yankees last season, after signing a pro-rated, $28 million contract on May 6. He made his first start in June.

Hamstring and groin problems dogged Clemens last season, as his innings total was his lowest since 1985, when he made 15 starts for Boston as a 22-year-old.

Obviously, age, price and last year's injuries aren't the only factors impacting this situation. Clemens' status regarding his naming in the Mitchell Report is another issue that potential suitors will want to see resolved satisfactorily before making a bid for Clemens, who has 354 career wins to his credit. But, before any of these hurdles are faced, another one is Clemens himself. Does he want to go through the grind he must endure to pitch again?

If you saw him in his press conference in Houston earlier this month, Clemens sounded like a man ready to retire. Then again, he has un-retired before.

Retirement is the odds-on choice at the moment, but assuming the seven-time Cy Young Award winner does decide to pitch one more year, and resolves the other issues, where would he likely land? In recent seasons, Clemens has limited his options to three teams: the Yankees, Red Sox and Houston.

The Yankees are out -- at least for now -- and the Red Sox, with one of the deeper rotations in baseball, are set. That could leave Houston as a possible destination if the Astros get off to a good start. Clemens has a personal services contract with his hometown team that begins when he retires, and perhaps could be convinced to pitch in and help if the Astros need him later this summer.

Other unsigned notables:

Bartolo Colon: Colon is coming back from shoulder problems, and has been scouted by the Indians, Mets, Royals and White Sox, but so far the former Cy Young Award winner hasn't found a home.

White Sox general manager Ken Williams admitted during Sunday's final SoxFest Town Hall Meeting at the Palmer House Hilton that he sent manager Ozzie Guillen to the Dominican Republic recently in order to watch Colon on the mound. Guillen came away impressed enough for the team to make Colon "an incentive-based offer, with a low-base salary," according to Williams, which could increase if Colon got healthy and pitched close to his vast capabilities.

"We couldn't find him. His agent couldn't find him," said Williams of Colon, 34, who posted a 15-13 record and a career-high nine complete games during his lone season with the White Sox in 2003. "The offer was designed to get him into the mix and create some competition -- not saying he would get the job. He didn't seem very interested in such a deal."

Livan Hernandez: The Mets are the front-runners to land the right-hander, who was 11-11 with a 4.93 ERA for Arizona last season. Hernandez would join his half-brother Orlando in the New York rotation and perhaps preclude the Mets from pursuing Minnesota left-hander Johan Santana.

Mike Piazza: Piazza, 39, hit .275 with eight homers and 44 RBIs in 309 at-bats for Oakland last season, but, with the emergence of Jack Cust and the A's rebuilding, the veteran declined arbitration.

David Wells: Wells, who turns 45 in May, won four of seven starts for the Dodgers late last season, but, so far, interest in the lefty has been tepid at best. The Reds discussed Wells, but, so far, nothing is imminent on that front.

Kris Benson, Freddy Garcia: Both pitchers are coming off injuries and may not be ready until the season begins.

Jim Molony is a writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.