The San Francisco Giants are seriously interested in bringing back Barry Bonds, despite the notion that the club might prefer to part ways with the aging slugger.
The team has been exchanging offers with Bonds' agent, Jeff Borris.
"I don't know where the story line came from that we didn't want him back," Giants general manager Brian Sabean said yesterday at the winter meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. "We've had a long-standing conversation and offer out there that we've adjusted a number of times. Because we were pursuing other players didn't mean we weren't interested in Barry."
Sabean planned to meet last night with Borris, who expressed his frustrations Friday that the Giants didn't offer Bonds salary arbitration.
Sabean said Bonds, a free agent, is healthy coming off elbow surgery and the GM thinks he expects to have a better idea soon as to whether Bonds will return to San Francisco to resume his chase of Hank Aaron's home run record of 755. Bonds has 734.
"We need a presence, a fourth hitter," Sabean said. "Obviously, he can still play baseball. He can still hit a baseball and is a threat in the middle of the lineup. ... Does it make baseball sense? Yes."
The Giants, meanwhile, agreed to a two-year, $8 million contract with first baseman Rich Aurilia and a one-year, $5.1 million deal with third baseman Pedro Feliz.
Mariners -- Jose Guillen agreed to a one-year, $5.5 million contract with a $9 million mutual option for 2008, giving Seattle a starting right fielder (with Ichiro Suzuki moving to center) and a dangerous bat in the middle of the order. Guillen, 30, batted .216 in 69 games last season, his second year with the Nationals, hitting nine home runs with 40 RBIs before reconstructive surgery on his right elbow.
Cardinals -- The club announced a five-year deal with 2005 NL Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter, locking him up through the 2011 season for about $65 million. The deal also includes a club option for 2012 that would bring the total value to $77 million.
Rangers -- Pitcher Vicente Padilla reached a preliminary agreement on a three-year, $33 million contract to remain with Texas. The deal contains an option for 2010 and is subject to a physical, sources said. The right-hander went 15-10 with a 4.50 ERA for the Rangers this year.
Exhibition game -- Major League Baseball will pay tribute to the civil rights movement with an exhibition game between the St. Louis Cardinals and Cleveland Indians in Memphis, Tenn., on March 31. The game will be played at the home of the Cardinals' Triple-A affiliate and raise money for the National Civil Rights Museum, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Jackie Robinson Foundation, the Negro Leagues Museum and Memphis charities.