Guillen asks Nats for extension

Guillen hoping for extension from Nationals

VIERA, Fla. -- After seeing teammates Nick Johnson and Brian Schneider get contract extensions, Nationals outfielder Jose Guillen said on Sunday afternoon that would like to have his contract extended before Opening Day. He hinted that he may test the free agent market after this season if it's not done by that time.

The news comes a few hours after Guillen hit two two-run homers against the Astros in a 13-6 win at Space Coast Stadium.

Guillen is making $4 million in 2006 and will be a free agent after the season. He declined to talk about the type of contract that he wants, but according to two sources, he wants a five-year deal worth $50 million. However, the Nationals are offering a four-year deal that would pay between $6.5 and $7 million per season. Washington is not planning to go to the $10 million per year range, according to one source.

General manager Jim Bowden declined to talk about the contract negotiations.

"I don't talk about contract negotiations through the media," Bowden said. "I didn't do that with Nick Johnson or Brian Schneider."

Guillen's agent, Adam Katz, met with Bowden last week and the two plan to talk over phone again sometime this week. Katz is the same agent who dealt with Bowden when the Nationals were trying to sign Sammy Sosa. Guillen said he would prefer not to negotiate for an extension during the season.

"I would love to get something done," Guillen said. "I don't want to go through the whole situation during the season, because, to me, the team is going to come first. I'm going to do everything I can to help this team. I'm pretty confident that we are going to get something done.

"I've already built a great relationship with the media, fans, front office -- [team president] Tony [Tavares] and Jim. These people are treating me with a lot of respect and I respect them. I appreciate what they have done for me. ... I don't want to go anywhere. This is the place I want to be. I want to stay here. From a business standpoint, I have to make a decision. I have to do what's best for Jose Guillen, this organization and my family."

The Nationals acquired Guillen from the Angels for outfielder Juan Rivera and shortstop Maicer Izturis on Nov. 19, 2004. Before the deal, Guillen was known as the guy who was suspended the last week of the '04 season and the postseason because of inappropriate conduct following his removal for a pinch-runner on Sept. 25 against the A's.

Guillen was in the last year of a two-year contract, when Washington picked up his option on April 29. By the All-Star break, Guillen had 51 RBIs and was on pace to drive in 100 runs, but a left shoulder injury hampered his swing and he finished the season with a .283 batting average with 24 home runs and 76 RBIs.

Guillen ended up having shoulder surgery during the offseason. According to Guillen, the surgery was supposed to take 30 minutes, but he was on the operating table for 2 1/2 hours. Guillen missed most of the exhibition season because of the shoulder and a left wrist injury suffered during Spring Training.

Guillen said he is close to being 100 percent, but didn't rule out starting the season on the disabled list. According to Guillen, he had a meeting with manager Frank Robinson after Sunday's game and they agreed that a decision about being placed on the DL would not be made until the Nationals play two exhibition games against the Orioles on March 31 and April 1. Guillen said he wants to see how his shoulder and wrist hold up in the cold weather.

"I want to make sure that my shoulder and wrist are 100 percent ready to go. That's a decision that I have to make in Washington or Baltimore," Guillen said. "I have to sit down with the doctor and Frank and go from there. I don't want to go through what I went through last year. It was a really painful situation. This year, I want to make sure none of this happens. I don't know how my shoulder is going to react to the cold weather."

Robinson said it was premature to talk about placing Guillen on the DL.

"We have more than a week left before the season starts, and there is plenty of time for decisions like that to be made," Robinson said.

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