Associated Press file photo
Ryan Zimmerman and the Nationals agreed to a six-year extension this morning.
VIERA, Fla. -- After a long Saturday spent overcoming a few remaining obstacles, the Nationals and Ryan Zimmerman put the finishing touches this morning on a long-term contract extension that promises to keep the star third baseman in Washington through at least 2019, perhaps 2020, while making him one of the game's highest-paid players.
Zimmerman agreed to the final terms this morning, a source with knowledge of the talks confirmed. The six-year extension (covering the 2014-19 seasons) is worth $100 million, and there's a $24 million club option for $2010. Zimmerman, 27, is already under contract for the next two seasons for $26 million, meaning he's now guaranteed to make $126 million over the next eight years and perhaps $150 million over the next nine years.
The Nationals will hold a news conference this afternoon to formally announce the deal, which ensures Zimmerman will be a member of the organization until he's at least 35 and makes him the second-highest-paid third baseman in history (behind only Alex Rodriguez).
With this contract now finalized, the Nationals know they have locked up the core of their roster for years to come. There are now 11 key players under team control through at least 2015: Jordan Zimmermann, Ian Desmond and Tyler Clippard (under control through '15), Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Wilson Ramos, Danny Espinosa and Drew Store (under control through '16), Jayson Werth (under control through '17), Bryce Harper (under control through '17 or '18 depending on when he makes his debut) and Zimmerman (under control through '19).
"That's awesome," Storen said. "I've always talked about this being a special group, not only quality baseball players but also good guys in the clubhouse. And especially guys like Zim, you can't ask for a better leader. He leads by example. He's been here since the beginning of the organization and has really been a staple for us."
This morning's resolution comes after the two sides spent Saturday night hammering out a number of details and all but acknowledging the contract would be finished early today.
"We have made significant progress on an extension for Ryan that would ensure he plays for the Nationals for a long time, which has always been Ryan's goal," agent Brodie Van Wagenen released in a statement shortly before 11 p.m. "We are working on a structure that will allow the team to continue to add talent and establish a winner which is another goal of Ryan's.
"While there are still important aspects to work through, we bridged multiple important gaps on many major parts of a contract. Nothing is done until it is done, but both sides are optimistic that an agreement can be reached and Ryan can focus his energies on preparing with his teammates for the season."
General manager Mike Rizzo, still working at Space Coast Stadium into the night, said the two sides had managed to cross enough major hurdles over the course of the day to leave only a couple of minor details still to be hashed out before the deal can be announced.
"We don't have a deal done yet, but we've made significant progress tonight," Rizzo said. "We feel good about it and optimistic that we can reach an agreement. But there's some small details we have to iron out through tonight and tomorrow. Hopefully tomorrow ... we'll have something more concrete to announce. But we feel good and optimistic that Zim is going to be a Washington National for a very, very long time."
Zimmerman released his own statement through Van Wagenen, reiterating his desire to work out a deal with the organization that drafted him out of the University of Virginia in 2005.
"All along, all I've wanted is to be able to stay with the Nationals, which I consider my hometown team, and help the franchise become a winner while also being compensated fairly," he said. "While nothing is finalized, I am confident that we can reach an agreement that will accomplish all those things. I'm from Virginia, I was drafted by the Nationals and I've seen this organization make great progress since I signed here. I want to see it through to the ultimate goal of winning a World Series."
Zimmerman had originally said he would end negotiations once spring training began for position players (10 a.m. yesterday). When a deal still hadn't been finalized by that point, he said he would give the team until the end of the day to get something done or else suspend negotiations until next winter.
The biggest sticking point all along has been the inclusion of a no-trade clause in the deal, but it appears that was one of the hurdles crossed last night, leaving only a few small items to be hashed out before the contract is completed.
"I don't see any major stumbling blocks," Rizzo said, "just more detail-oriented work that needs to be done."
By morning, all those details had been finalized. And the Nationals could rest easy knowing their star third baseman will be around for at least eight more seasons.
"Zim's awesome," shortstop Ian Desmond said. "He's the face of the franchise. He's been the face of the franchise since Day 1. If anybody deserves it, he deserves it."