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Nats let Guillen fly off to great Northwest
Nationals right fielder Jose Guillen signs with Mariners

 Jose Guillen
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Date published: 12/5/2006

By TODD JACOBSON

Jose Guillen's career as a Washington National likely ended with right elbow surgery in July, but his departure from the franchise became official yesterday.

Guillen signed a one-year, $5.5 million contract with the Seattle Mariners on the first day of baseball's winter meetings, ending a productive but sometimes tumultuous stint with the Nationals.

Guillen, 30, made $4 million last season, but the Nationals never made a serious attempt to sign the right fielder. However, because he was offered salary arbitration Friday, Washington will receive a compensatory pick between the first and second rounds of next year's First-Year Player Draft.

Acquired before the 2005 season in a trade with the Los Angeles Angels for Juan Rivera and Maicer Izturis, Guillen emerged as an emotional and offensive leader in the Nationals' first year in Washington.

He was among the Nationals' most recognizable faces during Washington's 2005 run to a first-half lead in the National League East.

Guillen led the team with 24 homers, 76 RBIs, 81 runs and 264 total bases that year, but as the season wore on, the enigmatic outfielder became critical of RFK Stadium's deep dimensions, earned a one-game suspension for an equipment-throwing tirade against his former team, the Angels, and feuded with some teammates, including left fielder Brad Wilkerson.

Guillen's 2006 season never took off.

After having offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, he battled wrist, chest and hamstring injuries through spring training and the first three months of the year. He also nearly touched off a brawl with the Mets after he was hit twice by Pedro Martinez pitches in April.

He hit a career-low .216 with nine homers and 40 RBIs in 69 games, and he was on the trading block when he left a game against the Florida Marlins July 18 with pain in his right elbow.

He had ligament replacement surgery several days later and was expected to miss up to a year, though a quick recovery has shortened that timetable.

"I'm just looking forward to this opportunity to try to get back on board and have the success that I've had before," Guillen told The Associated Press at baseball's winter meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.


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