Bonds gets $90 million US from Giants

Barry Bonds has 90 million new reasons to play baseball by the Bay.

Bonds, 37, agreed to a five-year, $90 million US contract with the San Francisco Giants on Monday, thus avoiding salary arbitration with the club.

"My heart has always been here," Bonds said. "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 was suppposedly seeking $100 million US over five years, while the Giants were reportedly prepared to pay him $72 million US over four years.

The two sides have been talking since Bonds, a free agent, accepted salary arbitration on Dec. 20, effectively binding him to the Giants for the upcoming season.

"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. No amount of money would make me leave San Francisco, to be honest with you.

"I always wanted to stay a San Francisco Giant. Unless there was a blockbuster, out-of-the world offer, I wasn't going to leave."

Under the new pact, which includes a no-trade clause, Bonds receives a $10 million US signing bonus paid in three installments -- $2.5 million US this Apr. 1, $3.5 million US on Apr. 1, 2003 and $4 million US on Apr. 1, 2004.

His annual stipend for 2002 and 2003 is $13 million US, with $5 million US of this year's salary deferred to 2007 and spread through to 2001.

Bonds will earn $16 million US in 2004, $20 million US in 2005 and $18 million in 2006.

"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."

The first four years, or $72 million US, is guaranteed, but the Giants can void the final year if Bonds fails to make 500 plate appearances in 2005.

However, should he accrue 1,500 plate appearances between 2003 and 2005, including 400 in 2005, the final season is guaranteed.

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

At an average value of $18 million US, Bonds' salary ranks fourth alongside Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs.

He trails Alex Rodriguez of the Texas Rangers ($25.2 million US), Manny Ramirez of the Boston Red Sox ($20 million US) and Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees ($18.9 million US).

"He did not require the optimum contract," said Scott Boras, Bonds' agent. "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."

Bonds enjoyed, arguably, the most remarkable offensive season in major league baseball history in 2001.

He batted .328, belted a major league record 73 home runs -- breaking Mark McGwire's mark of 70 in 1998 -- and drove in 137 runs.

Bonds' .863 slugging percentage obliterated Babe Ruth's seemingly unreachable record of .847.

Prior to Bonds, no player aside from Ruth himself had come within 72 points of the 1920 standard.

Bonds also surpassed Ruth's record for walks with 177 and became the first major leaguer since Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams in 1957 to register an on-base percentage above .500 (.515).

For his efforts, he earned an unprecedented fourth National League Most Valuable Player Award.

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

Bonds has played 16 seasons in the majors, the last nine with the Giants.

He is a lifetime .292 hitter with 567 career homers, the seventh-most ever, 1,542 runs batted-in and 484 stolen bases in 2,296 games.

About the only blight on Bonds' Hall of Fame resume is his dismal post-season performance.

He is .196 (19-for-97) with one homer and six RBIs in 27 playoff games for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Giants.