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Bonds ready to try arbitration

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- Unable to reach agreement on a long-term contract with any team, San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds reportedly has decided to go through the arbitration process.

Reports surfaced Wednesday that the single-season home run champion has accepted the Giants' offer of binding arbitration, a move that all but guarantees Bonds will spend the 2002 season with San Francisco.

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The 37-year-old left fielder, who was seeking a multi-year contract at roughly $20 million per season, had until midnight Wednesday to accept the salary hearing or have his negotiating window to return to the Giants shortened to Jan. 8.

With an independent arbitrator, Bonds could earn as much as $30 million per season. He put together one of the greatest offensive campaigns ever in 2001, hitting .328 with 73 homers, 137 RBI and 129 runs scored.

In addition to shattering the all-time single-season record for homers, Bonds established new major league marks for walks (177) and slugging percentage (.863). Texas Rangers shortstop Alex Rodriguez, who did not have as good a season as Bonds, was baseball's highest paid player in 2001 at $25 million.

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In the arbitration process, the team submits one figure and the player submits another. After both sides present their cases, an arbitrator picks one of figures.

San Francisco still has the option of trying to secure a long-term deal with Bonds, who needs 188 homers to tie Hank Aaron's hallowed career mark of 755.

Despite his lofty achievements, Bonds drew minimal interest this offseason as his age and lofty contract demands by agent Scott Boras left few suitors.

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