Bowden Locks Up Guillen for 2006
Byline: Mark Zuckerman, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
After acquiring Jose Guillen from the Angels last fall, Washington Nationals general manager Jim Bowden told the well-traveled outfielder the District would become his long-term home.
Bowden took the first step toward making that happen yesterday, picking up the $4 million option on Guillen's contract and ensuring the club's cleanup hitter will be back in 2006.
"When we made the trade, I told Jose that we were not making the deal for one year," Bowden said before last night's game against the New York Mets at RFK Stadium. "We made the deal because we feel he can be a big-time run producer in the next five or six years, and we want him to be a part of this organization. To make this move now backs up for him what we told him we were going to do."
For a club working under a tight, $50 million budget, Guillen remains one of baseball's best bargains. Despite his prodigious talent on the field, his off-the-field issues prevented him from ever hitting it big on the free-agent market. The Nationals inherited his two-year, $6 million contract from the Angels for outfielder Juan Rivera and infielder Maicer Izturis, a deal that included the $4 million option (or a $300,000 buyout) for 2006.
Thus, a player who averaged 29 homers and 95 RBI the last two seasons in Cincinnati, Oakland and Anaheim, is now under contract with Washington for well below market value.
Bowden would have been perfectly willing to give Guillen more money for more years, if not for the franchise's current state of flux under the ownership of Major League Baseball. …