Home is where the heart (and $90 million) is for Bonds

Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2002

SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds knew he'd stay with San Francisco the day he reported to spring training last February.

Bonds and the Giants made it official Monday night, agreeing to a $90 million, five-year contract.

''My heart has always been here,'' Bonds said at Pacific Bell Park. ''In spring training I knew I was staying. This is where I was raised. I wanted to stick it out here for my family, my friends and my fans.''

Bonds went on to have one of the greatest seasons in baseball history, hitting 73 homers to break the previous record of 70, set by Mark McGwire in 1998. The 37-year-old outfielder also had an .863 slugging percentage and 177 walks, breaking season marks set by Babe Ruth.

''No amount of money would make me leave San Francisco, to be honest with you. I always wanted to stay a San Francisco Giant,'' Bonds said. ''Unless there was a blockbuster, out-of-the world offer, I wasn't going to leave.''

While Bonds was pursuing the season record, he kept insisting he would enter the Hall of Fame in the uniform of the team with which he retired. He has 567 career homers, seventh on the career list and 188 short of Hank Aaron's record.

''We believe we have the best player in the game signed with the Giants for the next four years, at least,'' Giants owner Peter Magowan said. ''I can't say this day would happen, but both sides wanted it to happen. Entering 2002, this is the best team we've had in the 10 years of our ownership. The way the contract is structured, we'll be able to field very competitive teams.''

Bonds, the first player to win four Most Valuable Player awards, became a free agent after the season but the Giants were the only team to acknowledge a bid. He accepted the team's offer of salary arbitration on Dec. 20, and the sides were set to exchange proposed salaries Friday for a one-year contract.

''Peter Magowan made my childhood dream come true,'' Bonds said. ''I was glad I was able to help myself and the organization to stay at home. I'm so excited right now I want to call my godfather (Willie Mays) up and tell him I get to play in his backyard the rest of my career.''

Bonds will receive a $10 million signing bonus to be paid through April 2004. He gets salaries of $13 million in each of the next two seasons, $16 million in 2004, $20 million in 2005 and $18 million in 2006.

He isn't concerned about getting too old to fulfill the deal.

''If I can't play, I'll leave gracefully,'' he said. ''Don't worry.''

The average annual value of $18 million ties Bonds with Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs for the fourth-highest in baseball, trailing only Texas shortstop Alex Rodriguez ($25.2 million), Boston outfielder Manny Ramirez ($20 million) and New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter ($18.9 million).

''He did not require the optimum contract,'' said Bonds' agent, Scott Boras. ''He just wanted to be placed in the group of top players. Tradition is a hard thing to negotiate, and his tradition lies with the San Francisco Giants.''

Only the first four years and $72 million are assured. If Bonds doesn't have 500 or more plate appearances in 2005, the team can void the final year of the contract. If Bonds has 1,500 or more plate appearances combined from 2003 to 2005, including 400 or more in 2005, the team loses its right to void.

The Giants will defer $5 million of year's salary at 3.5 percent, money to be paid from 2007 to 2011.

Bonds, who has a no-trade clause, gets $2.5 million of the signing bonus on April 1, $3.5 million on April 1, 2003, and $4 million on April 1, 2004.

''His personal accomplishments speak for themselves,'' Giants general manager Brian Sabean said. ''He is such a vital element to our club's success.''

The agreement also calls for a 10-year personal services contract after his playing career is over, with the Giants to pay $1 million annually to the Bonds Family Foundation.

''I'm a Giant for life,'' Bonds said. ''Both sides wanted to have relationships for the long term. I wanted to be part of this organization for life, even after I retire.''

Teams were wary of a long-term deal because of his age and lack of success in the postseason, where he has a .196 average (19-for-97) with one homer and six RBIs.

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