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Sunday, December 15
Updated: December 17, 12:55 AM ET
After rejecting Mets' offer, Alfonzo joins Giants

Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Moving aggressively to reshape their team, the Giants agreed Sunday to a $26 million, four-year contract with Edgardo Alfonzo, a move that could end Jeff Kent's tenure in San Francisco.

Dec. 15
It might be the greatest comeback of this offseason.

San Francisco GM Brian Sabean's first three moves of the offseason were 1) signing a 69-year-old Felipe Alou to manage the Giants, 2) claiming Neifi Perez off waivers, and 3) signing 35-year-old Marquis Grissom, who posted a .321 on-base percentage last season, to play center field.

One questionable move (Alou), one pointless move (Grissom), and one scary move (Perez).

But since then, Sabean has more than made up for any previous missteps. Signing Ray Durham was smart, as the Giants got the best leadoff man they've had in quite some time. But signing Edgardo Alfonzo for $6.5 million per season? Why, that was a stroke of genius. Alfonzo's 2002 season has been described as "subpar" ... and all he did was bat .308 with a .391 OBP and .459 slugging percentage.

There is, unfortunately, still work to be done. Reggie Sanders wasn't great last season but he was good, and Sabean still needs to find one more bat for his lineup. If he can do that, the Giants have to be considered the early favorites in the West.

After negotiating with Kent for weeks, the Giants told Kent on Sunday that they needed a decision on their latest offer. When Kent's agent, Jeff Klein, declined the deal, San Francisco locked up Alfonzo, who can play second or third.

"I'm not used to this -- acquiring players. Now I have to wait for more,'' joked new Giants manager Felipe Alou, who spent years watching his stars depart cash-starved Montreal.

Giants general manager Brian Sabean said that signing "diminished'' the team's chances of retaining Kent, a former NL MVP. Before signing Alfonzo, the Giants spoke with Klein, but the sides were still far apart.

"They did after a chance to step up and weren't able to do so,'' Sabean said.

Klein said the Giants called him after agreeing to the deal with Alfonzo and asked him to continue talks.

"We'll see. There's been an interest among a number of teams,'' said Klein, who has told San Francisco he has interest elsewhere for a multiyear deal.

The Giants, who are targeting their payroll at $73 million to $75 million, have offered Kent arbitration, and he has until Thursday to accept or reject.

"We're over budget now,'' Sabean said. "It will be either a little or a lot.''

Alfonzo is coming off two subpar years for the New York Mets in which he played with an injured back and his performance declined. After hitting .308 last season with 16 homers and 56 RBIs, his first choice was to re-sign with the Mets, but he rejected an $11 million, two-year offer, asking for more than $2 million a year more.

Baltimore, Boston, Oakland and San Diego also expressed interest.

"My feeling was I wanted to stay close to New York,'' Alfonzo said. "That's not how it worked out. The Giants made a very good offer. It made it easy to make the decision.''

Help for Barry
Jeff Kent may still accept arbitration from the Giants, but after signing Edgardo Alfonzo on Sunday, Kent may be out of the picture. Here is how the Giants' lineup shapes up without Kent:

Ray Durham, CF
Rich Aurilia, SS
Edgardo Alfonzo, 2B
Barry Bonds, LF
Benito Santiago, C
J.T. Snow, 1B
Marquis Grissom, RF
Pedro Feliz, 3B

Alfonzo played third base for the Mets last season, moving from second when New York acquired Roberto Alomar. It's unclear where the Giants will use him.

San Francisco already signed free-agent second baseman Ray Durham, but it's possible Durham could be put in the outfield. The Giants made a point of telling Klein, their positioning is flexible, and it's even possible Kent could play first base instead of J.T. Snow.

"The first thing in my mind when I heard from the Giants was that I would play with Barry Bonds,'' Alfonzo said. "That's a great feeling. He's one of the best players in the game. To be part of that lineup should be something special.''

The NL champions have been one of the most active teams during the offseason, signing Durham away from Oakland for $20.1 million over three years and outfielder Marquis Grissom from Los Angeles for $4.25 million over two years.

Alfonzo gets a $4 million signing bonus -- with $1 million payable each Jan. 31 starting next month -- $3 million in 2003, $5.5 million in 2004, $6.5 million in 2005 and $7 million in 2006.

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 Committed To Action
Giants GM Brian Sabean talks with ESPN's Peter Gammons concerning the signing of Edgardo Alfonzo.
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