Will D.C. Be Jose Guillen's Last Stop?
[January 31st] - It's a really weird deal. Jose Guillen, a player that six other team's couldn't wait to get rid of, who caused dozens of other teams to hang up the phone when his name was brought up in trade talk, actually likes it here. The trade that brought Guillen to the Nationals from the Angels was a steal for Washington. Had Bowden held out, he might have been able to get away with sending the Angels a couple of dozen baseballs and a gift certificate to Pizza Hut.
The Nationals are facing another choice within the next few weeks. Guillen will be a free-agent following the 2006 season and will be able to sign with another team for 2007. He has told Jim Bowden he wants to get any deal done before the start of the season; after that, it's got to wait till season's send.
Today, Jose Guillen is telling team officials, and anyone willing to listen, that he wants to remain in D.C. for the long haul. He said it last fall when he was first traded from the Angels, and he's saying it again. The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star is reporting that Guillen is willing to do just about anything to stay with the team. "Guillen has expressed interest in signing a long-term extension during spring training. Guillen said he does not want to negotiate during the season." Money, he says won't be an issue. "I already told them if I have to defer money I will do that. I want to play where I am going to be happy. I am happy here.
The Nationals are faced with the prospect of losing 3/8ths of their starting lineup to free agency after this season (Nick Johnson, Alfonso Soriano and Guillen). Any decision regarding Johnson can wait until later in the year. Soriano needs to be tended to soon. Guillen has to be signed or left alone by the end of March.
What will Jim Bowden do?
We all know about Guillen's past problems, though the large explosions seem to have abated somewhat. He'll never be a warm and fuzzy personality, but he'll go pretty much un-noticed in a winning locker room. Over the past three years (the only three in his career where he played every day), Guillen averaged .295-28-90 with a .352 on-base percentage and a .515 slugging percent. He's 29 and will likely be able to be a solid producer for another five solid seasons before age begins to take it's toll. My guess is that those kind of numbers will bring Guillen a four-year, $25 million contract. That's a very fair deal as long as Guillen doesn't "whack out" during that period. I don't think any other teams would take a chance on him, especially at those kinds of dollars.
He'd probably have to take less to go elsewhere.
I would love to have Guillen stay as a member of the Nationals. It's not often that an all-star caliber player lists finances as a secondary issue during contract negotiations. Although this is strange to say, Guillen could be one of the "faces" of D.C. baseball. This is where the ownership issue really hurts the team. Guillen (like many players) doesn't want to hassle with negotiations during the season, and I don't believe that ownership will be in place in time for Bowden to make a multi-year offer (his status isn't as cut-and-dry as was Schneiders). If he has a huge year, there just may be a team desperate enough to take a chance on him next fall.
I doubt that Johnson and Soriano will remain with the team. I believe Guillen will. And that's a good thing.
Erie PA 1995
FROM HE KNOWS WHO...
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