Bonds honored: 56k | 300k
PHOENIX -- Barry Bonds made the World Series, but not the way he hoped.
|Bonds throws out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 1.
"I'm not in it, they are," he said outside the Arizona Diamondbacks clubhouse.
Baseball's new single-season home run record holder was honored before Game 1 with the Commissioner's historic achievement award and threw out the first ball.
In Bonds fashion, he blew off an earlier announced press conference, then had agent Scott Boras fend off reporters wanting to know where Bonds, an imminent free agent, would be playing in 2002.
"Talk to him," Bonds said, pointing in Boras' direction when questions shifted from the pregame presentation by Bud Selig to upcoming contract negotiations.
Boras -- seizing the opportunity to fire up the free agent campaign while covering for Bonds' media snub -- said his client was fatigued when the season ended, he just returned from an endorsement trip to Florida. You may recall Bonds saying: "I'm going to Disneyworld" after he broke the record. The strategy session for their free-agent campaign has not been held and probably would not for another 7-10 days.
But Boras, who negotiated Alex Rodriguez's staggering $252 million deal with Texas last winter, said he has the data compiled to show Bonds what he's worth and where he might find it, and did not shy away from discussing the New York Yankees.
And while it might be simply a tactic, Boras gave no evidence that Bonds was leaning toward staying in San Francisco with the Giants. He said he has had no conversations with the Giants, had no plans to call them and expected to file for free agency when the window opens the day after the World Series is over.
During the spring, Boras reportedly told the Giants that Bonds would accept a four-year, $70 million contract, but it was never offered. Now the Giants apparently will receive no favored treatment and must compete with every team, even though the Giants have exclusive rights to sign Bonds for 15 days after the World Series.
Boras declined to speculate how the nation's current economic climate, as well as the events of Sept. 11, might impact the negotiations, other than to say he was confident the public would want to see "an icon player" going after baseball's all-time home-run record, among others.
But he rejected the suggestion that there will not be an active market for Bonds, who is likely to win an unprecedented fourth MVP award next month.
"I don't know who would be skeptical about the need for a guy who does what Barry does," said Boras. "There are a great number of teams whose fortunes could largely change through the addition, or subtraction, of a Barry Bonds."
Boras said Bonds is not anxious about the upcoming negotiations.
"He's been through the process before," Boras said, referring to 1992, when Bonds left Pittsburgh for a $49 million, seven-year contract with San Francisco. "This is less of a mystery to him, plus the decision is very different than for a younger player. There is a more defined sense of purpose of what he wants to get done."
Boras said Bonds, who remained with the Giants through a two-year, $22.9 million extension to the original deal, has made clear at least one priority.
"Before he gets done with this thing, he's got to get that ring," he said. "That's a big factor. He has to be comfortable with the fact that he'll have a consistent shot over the five or six years."
The mention of five or six years is by design. Bonds is 37 and few clubs are expected to offer more than three years. And the topic of winning provided a natural opportunity for Boras to discuss a team very prominent in that department and, not coincidentally, right down the hall.
"Everybody knows the Yankees find a way to win and there is not any player who doesn't know the goal is winning, they and few other organizations are consistently in position of doing that and it will be looked at closely," Boras said.
Boras said the Giants have enjoyed Bonds' most productive years at a "monumental" financial discount because of the extension, which was signed in 1997.
"Economics will be part of it, because you want to establish the fairness of things," Boras said. "But he has school-age children, and that will be looked at in the process."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com.