NEW YORK -- One day after the World Series ended, baseball's
business season began Saturday when San Francisco's Barry Bonds,
Oakland's Frank Thomas and the Los Angeles Dodgers'
Nomar Garciaparra headed 59 players who filed for free agency.
Oakland pitcher Barry Zito and Washington's Alfonso Soriano are
the biggest names available in this year's free-agent class.
Approximately 200 players are eligible to file by the Nov. 11
deadline, and free agents can start talking money with all teams
the following day.
Under new rules this offseason, free agents do not face any
deadlines to re-sign with their former teams. In the past, players
had to re-sign by Dec. 7 (or Jan. 8 if offered salary arbitration)
or else could not return to their former teams until May 1. The
deadlines were eliminated in baseball's new labor contract.
Among pitchers, the Chicago Cubs' Kerry Wood and Houston's Andy
Pettitte could attract some interest. The Astros' Roger Clemens
also is eligible, but the 44-year-old hasn't indicated whether he
wants to pitch in 2007 or whether he'd consider leaving his
Outfielder Luis Gonzalez, not wanted back by Arizona after eight
seasons with the Diamondbacks, plans to play next year.
Bonds completed a $90 million, five-year contract with the
Giants. He has 734 homers, 21 shy of Hank Aaron's record, but it
isn't clear whether the Giants want him back. After missing most of
2005 because of a bad knee, Bonds batted .270 with 26 homers and 77
RBIs in 367 at-bats this year.
"A lot of players are somewhat nervous or apprehensive about
becoming free agents because of all the uncertainty," Bonds'
agent, Jeff Borris, said Saturday. "Barry has nerves of steel.
That's also evident in the way he plays baseball."