Young makes career turnaround, agrees to $10 million extension
NEW YORK -- Dmitri Young got another chance with Washington, and the Nationals aren't about to let him go now.
Young and the Nationals finalized a $10 million, two-year contract extension through 2009, capping an amazing turnaround for the All-Star first baseman.
"It wasn't that hard because both sides were interested in getting it done," Young said. "For me, this is an organization that believed in me when my chips were down. I have a great support system here and I see the good things that are happening in this organization."
Young will earn $5 million each in 2008 and 2009, and the contract also contains a $6 million option for 2010 that would become guaranteed if he has 500 plate appearances in 2009 or 900 combined in 2008 and 2009.
Details of the deal were provided by a person familiar with the talks who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because no announcements on the terms were authorized.
"This was an easy decision for us to make," team president Stan Kasten said. "We couldn't be happier. He's been so great for us all year and we hope that continues on to the future."
Young, who turns 34 in October, signed a non-guaranteed, minor league deal with Washington in February and is hitting .330 with nine homers and 54 RBIs this season.
He was out of baseball altogether at the end of 2006 after being released by the Detroit Tigers with less than a month left in the regular season.
That was only one part of Young's troublesome year, which included an assault charge, treatment for alcoholism and depression, and being hospitalized for diabetes.
"The person last year wasn't me," he said. "I've fought to get myself back to where I want to be."
General manager Jim Bowden, who knew Young from their days together with the Cincinnati Reds, decided to give him an opportunity and it's paid off.
"We are very pleased that Dmitri Young has decided to remain with us in Washington," Bowden said in a statement. "His infectious love for the game, and playing it the right way, has had a positive influence on this ballclub both in the clubhouse and on the field."
Young made the team as the starting first baseman in place of the injured Nick Johnson and has turned into the last-place Nationals' top hitter. Johnson has struggled to come back after breaking his right leg last season but is trying to get back on the field this year.
Young said he would move to the outfield to make room for Johnson if necessary.
"It's going to be a decision that we're going to have to make in the future when both of them are here ready to contribute," manager Manny Acta said.
Young is with his fourth club in a major league career that began in 1996. He also was an All-Star in 2003 with Detroit.
He is the second veteran player recently given a two-year extension by the rebuilding Nationals. Infielder Ronnie Belliard -- who like Young is in his 30s and joined the team in February with a minor league contract -- agreed to a $3.5 million deal through 2009.
"This week that we've been able to retain two real quality veteran leaders, competitors, that's a real plus for us," Kasten said.
Belliard, now the starting second baseman, has a .298 average with six homers and 32 RBIs.
Young went 1-for-8 as the Nationals split a day-night doubleheader with the Mets on Saturday. He hit an RBI single in the third inning of the nightcap to help Washington win 6-5.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press