- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 2, 2004

Former Cincinnati Reds general manager Jim Bowden will be the general manager of the Washington baseball franchise, Major League Baseball sources said last night.

Bowden could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Club president Tony Tavares did not speak about specific candidates but said the team was close to making a deal to hire a GM. The decision was expected to be announced today. Former Boston Red Sox GM Dan Duquette was among the other candidates considered for the job.

The franchise — currently owned and operated by the existing 29 major league baseball owners — has been without a general manager since Omar Minaya left at the end of the regular season to become the executive vice president of baseball operations and GM for the New York Mets. Assistant GM Tony Siegle has been handling the baseball business for the Expos since.

Bowden — considered a protege of former Baltimore Orioles vice president Syd Thrift — was the Reds general manager from 1992 until he was fired in July 2003. He made more than 100 trades as the Reds GM, including the deal that brought Ken Griffey Jr. to Cincinnati from the Seattle Mariners in February 2000 — a trade that has since backfired. Griffey has been plagued by numerous injuries and never has matched the numbers he put up in Seattle. The Mariners, meanwhile, thrived with the players they received in the deal — including center fielder Mike Cameron — and won a league-record 116 games in 2001.

Bowden, who became the Reds GM at 31, also made a number of successful deals. He acquired David Wells for the second half of the 1995 season when the Reds won the National League Central and went to the NL Championship Series. His administration also drafted and signed players like Austin Kearns, Adam Dunn and Aaron Boone. He was named executive of the year by Baseball America in 1999.

He began his major league baseball career in 1984 with the Pittsburgh Pirates and worked for Thrift from 1985 to 1988 as the club’s assistant director of player development and scouting. In 1989 he moved to the New York Yankees as assistant to the senior vice president for baseball operations and lasted one season before he was fired.

It is not clear how long Bowden would be Washington’s GM. It is considered a temporary appointment until new owners take over the club. Bob Watson, former Houston Astros and Yankees GM and the current vice president of on-field operations for MLB, was baseball’s first choice for the Washington job, but he turned it down.

Yesterday was the deadline for prospective ownership groups to file their “expressions of interest” with MLB to bid on the relocated Montreal Expos franchise. Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said he hopes to have an owner approved by the end of the year.

But until ownership is transferred, MLB will continue to operate the franchise, which means it will be responsible for making the personnel decisions that will go into assembling the 2005 roster that will play at RFK Stadium.

In the meantime, Tavares said the team has been working on signing free agents. The club made an offer to bring back third baseman Tony Batista, who hit 32 home runs and drove in 110 runs for the Expos last year.

“We are expecting a counter offer any day now,” Tavares said. “We wanted to push them and see where they stood.”

Tavares also said he has been in talks with MLB officials about increasing the payroll for the franchise in anticipation of increased revenues from the move to Washington. Last year’s Expos had a payroll of about $37 million.

“I am feeling much more optimistic about getting an answer quickly now,” he said. “It is difficult to get people’s attention during postseason play.”

Tavares added he expects a number of decisions about the Washington club — ticket sales and other business — to be made later this week.

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