Nationals extend GM Bowden's deal through '06

JUPITER, Fla. -- The Washington Nationals will have new ownership this season. But Jim Bowden will remain the general manager.

The Nationals, who are still owned and operated by Major League
Baseball, extended the contract of Bowden and assistant general
manager Tony Siegle through the 2006 season on Thursday. Bowden had been working under a six-month extension due to
expire at the end of April.

Originally hired as interim GM in November 2004, Bowden oversaw the relocation of the franchise from Montreal. The Nationals finished 81-81 in their first season in the nation's capital, a 14-game improvement from 2004, and spent 63 days in first place
in the National League East.

Bowden acquired outfielder Jose Guillen, who led the Nationals
in home runs (24) and RBI (76) last season, and signed pitcher
Esteban Loaiza as a free agent.

This past offseason, Bowden acquired All-Star second baseman
Alfonso Soriano from Texas, re-signed catcher Brian Schneider
and improved the team's depth with the additions of veterans
Michael Tucker, Marlon Anderson, Royce Clayton, Damian Jackson and Matthew LeCroy.

A former GM with the Cincinnati Reds between 1992 and 2003, Bowden
put together a team that advanced to the National League
Championship Series in 1995.

Even after ownership cut payroll, Bowden proved he could put
together a competitive team on a tight budget. In 1999, he was
named executive of the year when Cincinnati finished 96-67 and
lost in a one-game playoff for the wild card to the New York