NEW YORK (AP) – Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants reached agreement on a $16 million, one-year contract Thursday night that will keep the controversial slugger in the Bay Area to take aim at baseball’s home run record.

The deal includes four performance bonuses that could make the pact worth a total of $20 million, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because there had been no official announcement.

While Oakland, San Diego, St. Louis and other teams showed interest in signing the 42-year-old free agent, the Giants had been considered the front-runners to re-sign their star.

Bonds has 734 home runs and is 22 from breaking Hank Aaron’s career record. He has played 14 seasons for the Giants and is coming off a $90 million, five-year contract.

Bonds missed nearly the entire 2005 season after three operations on his right knee, prompting speculation on whether he was almost done. But the left fielder bounced back this year to play 130 games, hitting .270 with 26 homers and 77 RBIs.

Shadowed by allegations of steroid use and a target of boo-birds in many opposing parks, Bonds has remained a fan favorite in the Bay Area. He has been tied to the Giants by family and history – his dad, Bobby, was a popular player with the team; his godfather, Willie Mays, is regarded as the greatest Giant of them all.

The Giants will host the All-Star game next year, and can certainly build the event around Bonds as he nears Aaron’s mark.

A seven-time NL MVP, a 13-time All-Star and an eight-time Gold Glove winner, Bonds has stolen more than 500 bases and is baseball’s all-time leaders in walks.

Bonds met Wednesday with his former Pirates manager and now-Detroit skipper Jim Leyland, who is close friends with St. Louis manager Tony La Russa.

The Giants have been busy since the season ended. They re-signed Ray Durham and Pedro Feliz and also signed free agents Dave Roberts, Rich Aurilia and Bengie Molina, hoping to boost their lineup.

San Francisco cut ties with manager Felipe Alou after going 76-85 this season, and saw his son, outfielder Moises Alou, sign a free-agent deal with the New York Mets. Pitcher Jason Schmidt is working to finalize an agreement with the Dodgers.

Bruce Bochy was hired away from San Diego to manage San Francisco. Among the first things Bochy did after joining the Giants was phone Bonds.

The day after this season ended, Giants owner Peter Magowan said Bonds would not be the team’s main cog if he returned in 2007.

“I think we need to go in a new direction,” Magowan said in early October. “We have for a long time had a strategy that has worked well until the last two years, when it hasn’t worked so well. The strategy has been one of having a great player – maybe the greatest player in the game – at the centerpiece and filling in with veteran players.

“For a long time that worked well. It caught up with us the past couple of years. Now we do need to get younger and healthier,” he said.

Shortly before Thanksgiving, Magowan called the Bonds camp to clarify his remarks and say he did not mean to offend the star.

When the Giants did not offer salary arbitration to Bonds last week, agent Jeff Borris was miffed.

Borris said it spoke “volumes of their true intentions to have him back in a Giants uniform for the 2007 season.”

Once the baseball winter meetings began, however, Borris and the Giants talked several times.

At this point in his career, only one thing is missing on Bonds’ major league resume: a World Series ring.

Bonds has reached the postseason in seven different seasons, but made it to the World Series only in 2002 against the Anaheim Angels. With a chance to win the championship, the Giants blew a late 5-0 lead in Game 6 and lost, then lost Game 7.

Despite the defeat, Bonds hit .471 with four homers and had a .700 on-base percentage against the Angels. Overall, he is a .245 career hitter in the postseason.

Meche signs with Royals

The Kansas City Royals agreed to terms with right-hander Gil Meche on a five-year deal worth $55 million on Thursday as baseball’s winter meetings neared a conclusion.

Meche has a 55-44 career record with a 4.65 ERA in 147 games, all of them with the Seattle Mariners.

Meche was 11-8 with a 4.48 ERA and career highs of 186 2-3 innings and 156 strikeouts in 32 starts for Seattle in 2006.

Meche, who must pass a physical for the deal to be completed, will receive a $2 million signing bonus along with a $7 million salary in 2007, $11 million in each of the next two years and $12 million each in 2010 and ’11.

In another move, the Royals released pitcher Runelvys Hernandez, who struggled with conditioning and inconsistency. The right-hander was 6-10 with a 6.48 ERA in 21 starts this year.

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