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Nats, Zimmerman Closing In on Extension

The Washington Nationals are moving toward a 5-year, $45 million extension with third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, a source said. The deal is not yet finalized, but indications are that the contract could be announced within the next few days. A long-term deal with Zimmerman would culminate almost three years of negotiations and satisfy the team's longstanding desire to keep their 2005 first-round pick in Washington.

The deal would begin this year, wiping out the current one-year, $3.325 million contract Zimmerman signed with the Nationals in February. It would continue through 2013.

Without a new contract, Zimmerman is eligible for free agency after the 2011 season.

Zimmerman missed almost two months of the 2008 season, limiting him to career-low numbers in home runs and RBI. But the last few weeks of spring training and the first week of the regular season have indicated to Washington's front office that Zimmerman's gap homer and strength is back. So far, in eight games, Zimmerman is hitting .243 with two home runs and four doubles in 37 at bats.

Asked earlier this week what Zimmerman meant to the franchise, Manager Manny Acta said, "Everything. He means a lot to this franchise. When people have labeled this guy to be the face of the franchise, he is. He's our true leader. He's not vocal... but he's a guy, we don't have to talk to him about any team rules or anything like that. It's pretty remarkable that at that age, this guy already has 500 hits. Whether you like it or not, this guy, to me, he is our franchise player."

Barry Svrluga contributed to this report.

By Chico Harlan  |  April 17, 2009; 3:35 PM ET
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Next: Friday Night Nats-Marlins Lineups


Sensational. We have just bought five consecutive awesome 'second halves of the season'. Great.

Posted by: soundbloke | April 17, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

So, it is essentially a 4 yr/$41.675m extension, paying him a little over $10m for his 2 remaining arb years and 2 years of FA. That seems fair based on the current market and foreseeable future.

Posted by: dclifer | April 17, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

If true, GREAT NEWS! A bit lower then I expected. I thought the contact will exceed $50 million so this would be a steal for the Nats.

Posted by: irishnat | April 17, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Good news! I just hope it's true and we have two highly productive Zimmermen(n) with the Nats for many years to come.

Posted by: ramgut | April 17, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

our addition by deletion has made our lineup look more than a little fearsome. can we get four off nolasco, five for the game? manny's bff finally made it to buffalo, having snubbed his closer debut option of allentown. contagious, infectious enthusiasm on the nats' bench. just contagious infection on the chiefs'. crazy horse must be beside himself. he doesn't want to manage anyway, and now he has to watch THAT?

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 17, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Best news in a long time.
Please let this mean he (and some of the other guys) can just relax, go out, and play good baseball.

Posted by: ajtrue78 | April 17, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

So, this would buy out three arb-eligible seasons and two FA seasons, and carry him through his age 28 season, right? Seems like a pretty fair deal for the team, and if he produces he'll be set up for another big payday.

Posted by: Section220 | April 17, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

The best possible Nats news there could be. It signals the team's willingness to retain players long term, and we lock up a truly great player and really good guy. Zim deserves every penny.

Posted by: raymitten | April 17, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

I was just looking at the pitching matchups for this series. Better win tonight, that's all I can say...

Posted by: RickFelt | April 17, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

DClifer: I'd say Zimmerman is getting the better end of that deal when you look at what other players would sign for. Over his last two years of Arbitration Zimmerman would get between 13-16 million depending on production. That has you paying between $28-25 million for his first two FA years. I'd say thats a bit much given his production.

Don't get me wrong I celebrate this signing I just think Zimmerman has the distinct advantage in this deal.

Posted by: Steveo11 | April 17, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

for the fun of it, there's the old formula used at Fangraphs that prices the 3 arbtration years at 40%, 60%, and 80% of free agent value, and that discounts long term contracts by 10%. That would swag the contract at $5m, $7m, $9m, $12m, $12m. Maybe that 4th year is $11m, with 6th year option at $13 or $14m, with a $1m buyout. That'd be a very good deal for Zimmerman. Remember he came into arbtration at <$4m for this year, so this is getting him a lot more, sooner, than he priced himself at in arbitration.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | April 17, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Truly great player? Please do explain, raymitten.

Posted by: LivingInReality | April 17, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

"So, this would buy out three arb-eligible seasons and two FA seasons, and carry him through his age 28 season, right? "

It would buy out 3 arb seasons if you include this season where he was already under contract to make $3.325m. Zimm turns 25 this September, so yes.

Posted by: dclifer | April 17, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Still not as much as Nick Markakis' deal. And in terms of dollars per year, not even as much as Brian Roberts deal.

That's the Nationals for you.

Posted by: Os_Exec | April 17, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

All things considered, it sounds like a fair deal for both sides. Maybe the Lerners have learned what the boy billionaire in Redskins Park hasn't - re-sign your own free agents first.

Posted by: deMille_Ondefloss | April 17, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

This sounds a lot like the Youkilis deal. That bought out years 2 & 3 of arbitration, 2 years of free agency, and gave the team an option for another with a buyout. Just add in a $4m for the extra arbtration year bought out.

Here are the Youk numbers from Cots:

"4 years/$41.125M (2009-12)
-$1M signing bonus
-09:$6M, 10:$9.125M, 11:$12M, 12:$12M, 13:$13M club option ($1M buyout)"

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | April 17, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

jca-CC: You bring up an interesting point in terms of option years, hopefully there are one or two attached to this deal to give the team more control and leverage down the line.

Posted by: Steveo11 | April 17, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Second best news I have heard all day. Schultz missing morning skates for the Caps being the first.
FYI... Both play Saturday afternoon.

Posted by: Batboy05 | April 17, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

"Still not as much as Nick Markakis' deal. And in terms of dollars per year, not even as much as Brian Roberts deal.

That's the Nationals for you."

Probably has something to do with Zimmerman not being as good as Markakis or Roberts.

Posted by: RickFelt | April 17, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

i'd like to see a 6th year - either as a team or mutual option. buying out only two years of FA doesn't seem to me as great a deal as it could be, long-term "Plan wise" for the club.

that all said, it seems a fair deal, i like it, and i hope it comes to fruition, to keep Zimmy here long-term. i just don't wanna see Zimmy leave, just when he and/or the Nats could both be a their height of competitiveness!

Posted by: TheBorg | April 17, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

I think it's 50/50, because if your look at this off-season, while FA contracts were hurt by the economy, salaries awarded by arbitration weren't.

I'm throwing out a similar 3B just as a point of reference. Garrett Atkins has been more productive with the bat (Zimm better with the glove, obviously), but if Zimm didn't have such a bad '09, then maybe he would have received $4m+ in arb this year.
If you look at Atkins:
1st year arb (08): $4.44m
2nd year arb (09): $7.05m

I think this is (will be, hopefully) a win-win for both sides. Zimm will prolly get more money in '09, live a little more comfortably, and not have to worry about arb hearings for the next two off-seasons.

Posted by: dclifer | April 17, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

@TheBorg: Hopefully there are a couple of option years. Usually in these situations they are team options and they don't get reported until the final contract is done. So I feel pretty confident that we'll see at least one option when it is finally signed. Hopefully thats not just wishful thinking.

Posted by: Steveo11 | April 17, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

None of this changes the fact that Kearns is still on the team.

Posted by: RickFelt | April 17, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

lineups post

Posted by: NatsNut | April 17, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Well said, Mr. Felt. You are wise.

Posted by: LivingInReality | April 17, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

O's exec,

Your post makes no sense. How does Zim's deal make the Nats look bad? Is it because another team no one here cares about signed two of their players at a higher rate per year? If you think Zimmerman should have gotten more than Markakis and Roberts, then I'll have to say typical O's back at you for over paying. You're a genius.

Posted by: BillyBeane | April 17, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

DClifer: Truely it doesn't matter one way or another but when you see what guys like Markakis and others are getting then yeah i'd say the team caved to zimmerman and he got the better end of the deal. Now it will remain to be seen if the $45 million figure includes buyout money for options and/or any signing bonus money. If not than I think Zimmerman got the better end, if so then I would say its fairly even with a slight favorite towards Zim. But I will say this by only having two of his FA years bought out Zim won in that regard. Usually teams would like to buyout at least 3.

Posted by: Steveo11 | April 17, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: jdsp2000 | April 17, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Cha-ching, Zimm!

O's Exec posts don't tend to make sense, BB.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 17, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

I heard that if Zimm and the Nats reach agreement on the extension, he'll take the whole team to Panera to celebrate (Barry, too). :-D

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 17, 2009 4:49 PM | Report abuse

When Jim Bowden drafted Zimmerman 4th in 2005, he was very clear in his expectations for him: (and I paraphrase) "Zimmerman is the kind of player who is going to give us Gold Glove defense from day one as well as hit near .300, hit 20-25 homers a year and drive in 100 runs."

He's done nothing to alter that assessment.

Zimmerman is a very classy human being and a very good player. I think he'll be close to David Wright with the bat and better with the glove (even though Wright won his first Gold Glove in 2008).

His career on-base percentage, though, is just .340. I think eventually - hopefully soon - that Elijah Dukes becomes the #3 hitter with Zimmerman dropping to #5.

Posted by: rushfari | April 17, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

"Whether you like it or not, this guy, to me, he is our franchise player."

Whether you like it or not??? Wha?

Posted by: Ted_Striker | April 17, 2009 5:22 PM | Report abuse

If true, a sharp curve has been negotiated. Credibility to the ownership and player and agent for getting it done. Seems fair to both parties.

Posted by: cokedispatch | April 17, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

It took Dale Murphy winning two MVP awards and becoming a 30/30 original, gold glove, during a dead ball era, etc... before he made 2 million a year. That was what he was making in 1990 when minimum wage was $3.80.

The only notible thing Zimmerman has done is knock in 110 RBIs his rookie year. Had he been given this contract after that season it might seem worth it. And we could say he was getting 9 million a year when minimum wage was $5.15.

Oh and Zimmerman has a combined total of 6 stolen bases more than he's been caught for his career.

Minimum wage was raised 36% over that span and republican wages? Who knows.

Posted by: chavez66 | April 17, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Congratulations Ryan. I don't know why it took so long but it did get done. Whoever made it happen, thank you.

Posted by: hz9604 | April 17, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

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