Gonzalez agrees to 4-year deal with Padres

SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego Padres raised some eyebrows early
in spring training when they gave first baseman Adrian Gonzalez a
raise of just $500 for this season.

Adrian Gonzalez Gonzalez

Gonzalez was coming off a breakout performance in his first full
big league season, when he led the NL West champion Padres with a
.304 average and 24 homers, and was second with 82 RBIs.

He was a local kid, and he'd been selected the team's MVP.

That "bump in the road," as general manager Kevin Towers
called it, disappeared on Sunday, when Gonzalez agreed to a $9.5
million, four-year deal. The contract would be worth $15 million if
the Padres exercise an option for $5.5 million in 2011.

"This is something that secures us and gives us the knowledge
that we're going to be here," Gonzalez. "I mean, a trade's still
always a possibility; we've learned that in the past. But we're
very happy, my wife and I."

The 24-year-old Gonzalez seemed nonplussed by the whole

"I'm not the type of guy to be looking into contracts,"
Gonzalez said. "I want to play on the field. That's what I worry
about. I was glad for the opportunity that this came up. But it
didn't bother me because I'm worried what I'm doing on the field,
not off the field."

The sides began discussing the long-term deal about a week after
the Padres renewed Gonzalez for $380,500. Although the Padres had
the right to renew Gonzalez, the club was criticized in some
quarters for giving him such a small raise.

The Padres initially offered $391,500, but rejected the deal
after Gonzalez and agent John Boggs asked for $418,000 -- a 10
percent raise over the minimum.

At the time, Towers said Gonzalez was receiving a sizable raise
given that the collective bargaining agreement increased the league
minimum from $327,000 to $380,000 for 2007.

Towers said Sunday that the Padres had hoped to agree to a
one-year deal, then begin negotiating a long-term contract.

"It certainly didn't work out that way," he said. "It's kind
of difficult sometimes to explain the process and the thinking of
it. It's part of the process. It's no different than going to
arbitration with a player when you can't agree to terms."

Towers thanked Boggs, who also represents Hall of Famer-elect
Tony Gwynn, for working through the process.

"Anytime you have those kind of renewals, a lot of times the
dialogue stops and it can get somewhat ugly," Towers said. "We
were able to kind of put that behind us and work through that.
Hopefully this is mutually beneficial for all sides."

Gonzalez was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2000 amateur draft,
by Florida, but never made it to the bigs with the Marlins. He was
traded to Texas in 2003 and made his big league debut with the
Rangers the following season.

He was acquired him in a six-player deal with the Texas Rangers
on Jan. 4, 2006, along with right-hander Chris Young and left
fielder Terrmel Sledge.

The deal includes a $500,000 signing bonus plus salaries of
$500,000 this season, $750,000 in 2008, $3 million in 2009 and
$4.75 million in 2010.

"What kind of led us to this decision is not only is he a great
baseball player, but we take it very seriously here in San Diego
the kind of people we tie ourselves to long term, to wear that
Padre uniform, to act, treat, not only our fans but many people in
San Diego, in a very professional manner," Towers said. He's a
tremendous role model. He represents the city and this organization
very well."

The Padres originally suggested a deal of five years plus an
option, but Boggs wanted four-plus-one. That way, the option year
will be the last year Gonzalez is eligible for arbitration, and
then he'll be eligible for free agency.

"He'll turn 29 during his first free-agent year," Boggs said.
"He's going to have a long career ahead of him."