Nats’ Bowden Quits Amid Probe

The Jim Bowden era in Washington, D.C., is over after the Nationals’ embattled general manager resigned on Sunday, admitting that he had become a distraction.

Bowden’s announcement, made at the team’s spring training site in Viera, Fla., comes on the heels of a volatile, two-week stretch within the Nationals organization. recently reported that the FBI, which met with Bowden last year as part of an investigation into allegations of skimming signing bonuses of Latin American prospects, is expanding its scope of Bowden as far back as 1994 when he was GM of the Reds.

The Nationals on Thursday fired his longtime assistant, former big leaguer Jose Rijo, and also severed ties with Jose Baez, who ran their Dominican academy that had been owned by Rijo. (The Nationals have since moved out of that facility and into one in Boca Chica.)

Rijo’s departure came after Nationals president Stan Kasten confirmed a media report that Esmailyn Gonzalez had faked his name and age. Gonzalez, who is actually 23—not 19—and whose name is Carlos Alvarez Daniel Lugo, was discovered by Rijo.

Gonzalez received a $1.4 million bonus, the largest ever for a Nationals prospect.

"My resignation is based upon my realization that my ability to properly represent the Washington Nationals has been compromised because of false allegations contained in the press," Bowden said, reading from a written statement in Viera, Fla. "I am disappointed by the media reports regarding investigations in any of my professional activities."

He also said he had become a distraction that was too much of a burden on the Nationals.

"There have been no charges made" Bowden added, "and there has been no indication that parties have found any wrongdoing on my part."

The Nationals were 351-458 in his four seasons but now need a new GM a month before the regular season gets under way.

The Nationals have not named a replacement.