Bonds, who reached an agreement in principle Dec. 7 to return to the Giants in 2007, is no closer to signing the one-year, $16 million deal today than he was a month ago. Part of the problem, mirroring all the other players, is a change in the standard guarantee language rewritten this offseason by San Francisco's department of baseball operations in each of the contracts, said Bobby Evans, an assistant general manager, who is handling the details of all these deals.
With the opening of Spring Training just a little more than five weeks away, Evans said the Giants have signed letters of agreement with eight of their nine free agents, even though the contracts have yet to be inked.
"The one that doesn't have all the boxes checked off is Barry," Evans said. 'We do not have a complete signed letter of agreement. At Barry's request, Barry wanted to have all the language finalized before anything was signed and announced. That's the difference. That's why we haven't announced Barry's signing nor put him on the 40-man roster."
Indeed, Bonds said recently that he's not signing the contract until "they've dotted all the I's and crossed all the T's."
Aside from Bonds, the Giants are bringing back Pedro Feliz, Ray Durham and Steve Kline from last year's squad. So far, they have added Barry Zito, Dave Roberts, Rich Aurilia, Ryan Klesko and Bengie Molina.
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"What it comes down to is how some of those things are worded," Evans said. "Things like prohibited activities. We don't want our players participating in certain team sports. Things like that. The list is longer than it has been in the past. This is not legalese. This is spelled out in plain English. It's easy to understand. It's a lot less ambiguous."
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"I don't see how the negotiations with Barry has anything to do with any of the others," Evans said. "I'm trying to be consistent, fair, administratively conscientious and get something that everybody is comfortable with."
Borris declined to comment on the depth of the problems he's having with the Giants about the language in Bonds' new contract. He did say he was relatively certain that the standard guarantee language submitted to him was the same as what the Giants gave to the other eight free agents.