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Nats give Bowden, Siegle extensions

Nationals extend contracts of Bowden, Siegle

VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals extended the contracts of general manager Jim Bowden and assistant GM Tony Siegle through the completion of the 2006 season on Thursday.

A deal has been in the works for Bowden, 44, for several weeks, but team president Tony Tavares said he had to wait and get approval from Major League Baseball.

"I just needed a green light," Tavares said. "It got delayed because people [in Major League Baseball] had pressing issues that were more important. I'm sure Jim didn't feel that way. I think any new owner is crazy to try to change the general manager in the middle of the season. I put all my rationale together of why I thought it made sense to keep the GM here through the season. [MLB president and chief operating officer] Bob DuPuy is the one that got back to me and said, 'Fine. Go ahead.'"

Bowden, who was not available for comment, was working on a six-month contract, which was going to expire on April 30. Bowden is entering his second season with the club. Since becoming the GM on Nov. 2, 2004, Bowden's contract has been extended three times.

In his first season, the Nationals went 81-81 and won 14 more games than the previous season, when they were still playing on Montreal. The 14-game improvement matched the Brewers for the third largest in baseball.

Bowden also oversaw the drafting of third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who joined Washington just 11 weeks after being selected fourth overall in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Virginia; Zimmerman was the first position player from the 2005 draft to reach the big leagues.

Bowden spent this past offseason trying to improve the club with a limited budget. He addressed the Nationals' immediate need for offense by acquiring second baseman Alfonso Soriano in December. He also remedied the lack of bench depth by adding pinch-hitting specialist Marlon Anderson, catcher/first baseman Matthew LeCroy, shortstop Royce Clayton, outfielder Michael Tucker and infielder Damian Jackson.

Now in his fourth decade in baseball, Siegle is widely viewed as a specialist in rules interpretation, contract negotiations and big-league administration. Including Bowden and Frank Robinson, Siegle has worked with 23 general managers and 22 managers.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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