Seattle and Texas are two destinations that have been cited fairly often in the mainstream media. I don’t give a lot of credence to them at all.
First, let’s look at Seattle. The most fundamental problem is that the Mariners have no vacancy for Bonds. At left field, they have Raul Ibanez, who is under contract for 2008. Same with Jose Vidro at DH. Right field is arguably a possibility, but the $9.0 million option the Mariners have on Jose Guillen will quite possibly get picked up, and if it does not you’d figure that the heir apparent is Adam Jones. And if you’d want to get creative and put Bonds at first base, Richie Sexson still has another year on his contract there.
The Mariners also have a fairly strong brand that leans toward the cute-and-cuddly side; can you imagine Bonds and Ichiro Suzuki co-existing on the same team? And they have a GM that is not particularly known for his propensity to take risks, nor for his appreciation of on-base percentage, which is Bonds’ primary strength at this point.
Texas certainly could use Bonds; frankly they could use a complete makeover pretty much everywhere on the right side of the defensive spectrum. And since they demonstrated a willingness to bring in Sammy Sosa last year, it’s hard to imagine that they’d veto Bonds for branding reasons. The Rangers could very well make an offer to Bonds.
But the thing is, why on earth would Barry Bonds want to play in Texas? It’s hard to imagine two cities that are more opposite than Dallas and San Francisco from a cultural standpoint; from his point of view he’d go from playing before a sympathetic California crowd to a bunch of red-state rednecks. The Rangers aren’t going to give Bonds much of a chance to win a championship next year. And I’d argue that, while having brought in Sammy Sosa last year might immunize the Rangers from further damage to their brand, the same is not true for Bonds’s brand. Bonds would instantly be classified with Sosa, and to a lesser extent Rafael Palmeiro (the same is also a problem in Baltimore). That’s the last thing he needs from the standpoint of rehabilitating his legacy.
Underlying all of this is my assumption that Barry Bonds will have at least several decent choices of where to play next year, particuarly if he is not all that sensitive to the money involved. I think there has emerged this year a consensus to sort of agree to disagree on Bonds. He is not as toxic as he was 12 or 24 months ago, he’s not going to have as many reporters following him around now that he’s dethroned Ruth and Aaron, and to a lesser extent he’s had some of the heat taken off of him by players like Troy Glaus. “Barry Bonds does steroids” is old news now, and I don’t think he will be stuck having to go with his sixth or seventh choice.