SAN FRANCISCO - Barry Bonds is willing to wait for a significant portion of his paycheck until after he’s done playing for the San Francisco Giants.
“That was very important to us to arrive at a deal. It was almost the only way we could arrive at a deal,” Giants general manager Brian Sabean said Monday without officially announcing Bonds’ new contract.
“There was definite give and take. If we hadn’t been able to shake and bake the financial part of this we wouldn’t have been able to go forward.”
Sabean all but confirmed the re-signing of Bonds, with the GM saying he hoped everything would be finalized by the end of the week. The slugger, who will get a $16 million, one-year contract, still needed to undergo a physical and his representative, Jeff Borris, returned Monday from a trip to the Dominican Republic.
“There are a lot more things that still need to be done in the language of the contract, and that could take some time,” Borris said.
The sides reached a preliminary agreement last Thursday on the final day of the baseball winter meetings in Florida. With bonuses, Bonds could make as much as $20 million — more than he earned in 2006 in the final season of his $90 million, five-year contract.
With left field and the cleanup spot now in order, Sabean has turned his attention to signing a top starting pitcher, and left-hander Barry Zito is someone the team is targeting. The New York Mets and Texas Rangers are also seriously interested in Zito, the 2002 AL Cy Young award winner who played his first seven big league seasons with the Oakland Athletics.
Having deferred money in Bonds’ contract gives the Giants flexibility to go after a first-tier starter. Zito was in the Bay Area to host a holiday party Monday night, but Sabean wouldn’t say if they were scheduled to sit down or even talk.
“He’s a name. Who knows,” Sabean said. “Pitching is on our minds first and foremost.”
Sabean also opted not to comment or speculate on how many teams were interested in signing Bonds, who turned up at the winter meetings in a rare move by a high-profile free agent.
Bonds has 734 home runs, 22 from breaking Hank Aaron’s career record of 755. While Bonds was limited to 14 games in 2005 following three operations on his troublesome right knee, he rebounded in 2006 to bat .270 with 26 homers and 77 RBIs in 130 games for the Giants in 2006. The seven-time NL MVP also drew 115 walks. He had arthroscopic surgery on his left elbow in October but is in good health, working out almost daily at UCLA.
New manager Bruce Bochy is looking forward to writing Bonds into the lineup and said, “I’m not going to form any opinions” about Bonds and his off-field issues and the allegations of steroid use that follow him everywhere.
“We needed a cleanup hitter. It’s hard to find a better cleanup hitter than Barry Bonds,” Bochy said. “Everybody would like to have a go-to guy and it looks like we’re going to have one. ... I’ve known Barry over the years. One thing about Barry is he wants to win, and that’s all you can ask from a player.”
San Francisco owner Peter Magowan said a day after the season ended that if Bonds returned he would only be a piece of the puzzle and no longer the face of the franchise. But No. 25 always will be the star of this organization, no matter what was said to the contrary — especially leading up to the All-Star game next summer in San Francisco.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
“It was my job to be involved in as many areas as possible and be as creative as possible,” Sabean said. “Obviously we dipped in with both feet in free agency situations. At the end of the day, you still need a fourth hitter and you still need a lineup.
“I’m not going to apologize for Barry being our four hitter. If there’s ranker, so be it, but it’s going to be decided on the field.”
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