Top-level MLB people are holding to a glimmer of hope that the contract for controversial slugger Barry Bonds, which was done with the Giants a couple days ago, might still come undone. While they aren't sure what happened to cause the latest discord between the Giants and Bonds, they cling to the longshot hope it could cause a deal that has already been signed by both parties to unravel.
The latest hiccup came after the commissioner's office balked at an agreed-upon provision requiring Bonds to attend a specific number of team functions and promotional events, though the removal of that provision appeared to most folks to be a small issue compared to several others in what both sides have described as "complex" negotiations. That's especially true since, as one Bonds confident put it, "Barry does what Barry wants anyway." That has led to speculation that something more had to be going on.
Bonds agent, Jeff Borris, told the Associated Press on Wednesday night, "At this time, Barry's not signing the new documents." But Borris declined to say anything more to explain the latest holdup.
Meantime, club owner Peter Magowan's letter to season-ticket holders to explain the signing hit the Internet on Thursday. The letter didn't exactly express delight over the signing, but almost apologetically explained why they felt they had to do it.
In the letter, which was confirmed by SI.com, Magowan wrote of the decision to re-sign Bonds: "This decision was not taken lightly and we spent significant time evaluating all of the elements and circumstances surrounding the negotiations before we made a final determination to move forward."
Magowan then referred to the Jan. 12 New York Daily News report that Bonds had tested positive for amphetamines and expressed concern about the report's contention that Bonds suggested teammate Mark Sweeney was involved.
Magowan wrote, "We consider any action by one player to unfairly damage the reputation of another player to be a serious matter. Based on the information that we have at hand in this matter and in discussions with both players, all of the facts have not been accurately portrayed. After evaluating the situation and its potential impact on clubhouse chemistry, we came to the conclusion that the Giants' players will be able to function as a team committed to supporting each other and dedicated to doing everything they can to succeed on the playing field."
Magowan explained the controversial signing in terms of long-range objectives and stressed that it's only a one-year deal. He wrote, "Additionally, we felt that with these assurances, signing Barry to a one-year contract helped us pursue a long-term strategy toward getting the club back on track. With his presence in our lineup and only a one-year contractual commitment, we were able to avoid the temptation to trade away some of our valuable young pitching talent and were able to free up long-range funds to acquire a front line pitcher. These decisions enabled us to sign Barry Zito, retain our promising and highly sought-after young pitchers and fill our need for a power hitter in the middle of our lineup. We believe that this combination of moves provides the Giants with a better chance of winning in 2007 and in the years ahead."
It isn't known whether the letter had any impact on Bonds' mood. But MLB people are still holding out hope Magowan has to write a new letter explaining why the deal is no longer.