07/22/08 10:39 PM ET
Guzman agrees to two-year extension
Nationals shortstop 'gave back' to team, says GM Bowden
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
General manager Jim Bowden said the new deal was Guzman's way of giving back to the team. Guzman took into account that the organization took a tremendous hit from the baseball community and local media for giving him a four-year, $16.8 million contract after the 2004 season. Guzman was either hurt or not producing during the first three years of the contract.
"I took this deal because I want to stay here. They gave me the deal I wanted. Why should I have to wait? They gave the deal I wanted, so I took it," Guzman said.
At the same time, the Nationals needed to re-sign Guzman because they have nothing in the farm system that is ready to take over the position in the next two years. Washington is hoping that Esmailyn Gonzalez can take over the role in the future.
"On the free-agent market, he knows he could get the four years, but he gave back and he stood up for what he believed in. I give him a lot of credit," Bowden said.
The Nationals approached agent Stanley King about a contract extension for Guzman on June 25 at Nationals Park. According to multiple sources, the Nationals initially offered a two-year, $10 million deal. But after weeks of friendly negotiations, both parties agreed to $8 million per season. Guzman acknowledged that he was looking for a longer deal, but understood where the Nationals were coming from.
"They had to pay me when I didn't go on the field everyday. ... I knew they were not happy about that," Guzman said.
Guzman has been the Nationals' best player this season. Entering Tuesday's action against the Giants, Guzman is hitting .310 and leads the National League in hits (129) and at-bats (416). He raised his stock even more when he played third base for the National League All-Star team at Yankee Stadium.
"He has really developed with the bat," Bowden said. "His work ethic is amazing. The way he takes batting practice, he is more professional than anyone on our team. The way he takes infield, he is more professional than anyone on our team. He has done a great job for us."
Guzman was originally signed by the Nationals as a free agent on Nov. 16, 2004, after playing his first six Major League seasons with the Twins. The nine-year veteran has batted .268 with 193 doubles, 76 triples, 50 home runs, 368 RBI, 114 stolen bases and a .305 on-base percentage during his career.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.