Johnson agrees to three-year, $16.5M extension

VIERA, Fla. -- First baseman Nick Johnson agreed to a $16.5 million, three-year contract extension with the Washington Nationals on Saturday, a deal that ties him to the club through the 2009 season.

"Just the opportunity to be here the next four years -- I'm
looking forward to winning," said the oft-injured Johnson, who hit
.289 with 15 home runs, 35 doubles and 74 RBI last season.

"I haven't won the big one yet, and I want to bring that to

He signed a $3.2 million, one-year deal in January, avoiding
arbitration. That contract stays in effect this season, followed by
the extension, which will pay $5.5 million each season.

Johnson made his major league debut with the New York Yankees in
2001, and he's developed a reputation as a fragile player.

He played in a career-high 131 games in 2005.

"If he doesn't have the injuries, he's in the $8-$10 million a
year range," general manager Jim Bowden said. "But he's been
hurt, so we hope he gets healthy, and if he's healthy he has a real
good deal. And if he doesn't get healthy, we still have a good deal
for what he brings to the table."

Johnson joins catcher Brian Schneider as Nationals signed
through 2009; Schneider signed a $16 million, four-year deal in

"This is a step in the right direction," manager Frank
Robinson said. "This sends out a good message to the fans and to
the rest of the players that if we feel like a player ... is going
to be good for the ballclub in the future, we won't be afraid to
lock them up."

Bowden now will turn his attention to trying to sign other key
players to long-term deals. He said he's made multiyear offers to
outfielder Jose Guillen and Alfonso Soriano, who's resisting
Washington's wishes that he move from second base to left field.