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The Zimmerman Deal, In Detail

I'm saving some of the behind-the-scenes negotiating stuff for a print (and Web) article, but here's a sketch of the basics from Ryan Zimmerman's five-year, $45 million contract, officially announced today.

* Zimmerman's contract begins this year, allowing him to become a free agent after the 2013 season. At that point, he'll be 29.

* Zimmerman's contract includes no club options; this was one of the final hold-ups in the deal. All along, the Nationals wanted an option year. Zimmerman did not.

* The deal was actually hammered out in the final minutes before Opening Day. Zimmerman was still talking to his agent, Brodie Van Wagenen, about 20 minutes before the first pitch against the Marlins in Florida.

* Here's the year-by-year...

2009: $3.325 million, plus $175,000 in plate appearance incentives, plus a $500,000 signing bonus

2010: $6.25 million

2011: $8.925 million

2012: $12 million

2013: $14 million

Also included are bonuses for all-star appearances and other rewards. The contract also includes tie-ins for annual charity events and community appearances.

* To start the news conference at Nationals Park this afternoon, Zimmerman sat down in between principal owner Mark Lerner and president Stan Kasten. Each spoke for a few minutes, mostly talking about the significance of the day, the commitment of the franchise, etc.

Some assorted quotes:

From Kasten: "I will say this about the negotiations. They didn't end up where they started. There were about 1,000 permutations that crossed the table over the last three years, and this was the final combination that did it. There wasn't any magic done ... in fact, the very last permutation happened quite at the end. A day before we finally agreed I couldn't have told you for sure that's what the final result would have been."

From Zimmerman: "I mean, I've been convinced that they are on the right path for a long time. This is who drafted me, this is where I want to play. It's obviously a great city for me, growing up close to here, going to school close to here. I think it would be pretty cool to get drafted by a team and play there your whole career. You don't see that throughout people's careers much anymore. ... I have faith in [the] Lerners and the ownership that they're going to continue to bring people in and get this team to where it needs to be. I think this offseason was a huge step, and they kind of went out and showed what they're willing to do. I think that gave a lot of people confidence."

From Van Wagenen: "Well, I think the injury last year definitely complicated negotiations, because both sides, then, were left to look at not only who he is now, but also who he can be over the course of the years forward. None of us have a crystal ball, but the one thing I can say is that this contract reflects the Nationals' and the Lerners' belief in Ryan as a player today, but also what they think he can be over the next five years."

By Chico Harlan  |  April 20, 2009; 5:49 PM ET
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Have to say, Ryan (and his agent) are pretty smart for staying away from club options. He'll be 29 and if he performs well he could be in line for another healthy contract. Big difference between hitting the market when you just turned 29 and hitting it when you are 30 or 31 after a couple of option years.

I say good deal for both sides.

Posted by: Section220 | April 20, 2009 6:14 PM | Report abuse

I was really hoping there was at least one option year if not two considering it was only a 5 year extension.

Posted by: Steveo11 | April 20, 2009 6:15 PM | Report abuse

"I've been convinced that they are on the right path for a long time."

I guess that's a bit overstated, if he wants to be able to walk after 5 years

Posted by: fischy | April 20, 2009 6:21 PM | Report abuse

...1st time poster...Baseball,Nats fan...really enjoy the stuff here, especially the -for the most part- the absence of over the top bile. Thoughtful, w/o weighing in on any particular point of view, here's a thought I've had which I think I can claim as original (seen nor heard from anyone else). Anyone else see the sense? WE NEED TO SWAP THE LERNERS FOR DAN SNYDER!!! The Nots then get a passionate owner willing to spend what it takes and the Foreskins get an owner with the probity to execute a build from within plan- WITH minimum salary requirements!Seriously!I know that it's an impossibility, but philosophically speaking.......makes sense to me!

Posted by: zendo | April 20, 2009 6:24 PM | Report abuse

I was really hoping that the contract would start up next year so the Nats would have him locked up through 2014. Oh well.

Posted by: theaman4 | April 20, 2009 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Ryan: go earn the big cash now that it is coming to you. PUH-lease! No excuses. You are healthy, there are no contract distractions, the sun (figuratively) is shing on you and Adam Dunn (actually) is shining behind you, be the man everyone is betting you'll be! Just do it!!

I am a bit surprised there is no option year, it works pretty well for both parties, generally.

Posted by: dfh21 | April 20, 2009 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Chico: Is there a no-trade clause in Ryan's contract? Sounds silly, I know, but figured I'd ask anyway....

Posted by: Juan-John | April 20, 2009 6:38 PM | Report abuse

There had better not be a no-trade. that would be crazy.

Posted by: dfh21 | April 20, 2009 6:50 PM | Report abuse

No option years is a good idea for both sides. The Lerners don't want to pay the higher cost without proven talent, and Zimm won't miss his big free agent payday -- hopefully with the Nats.

Posted by: Section506 | April 20, 2009 6:53 PM | Report abuse

506: It depends on what type of option it would be. Generally all options are good for players as team options will give them a buyout and player options obviously give the player plenty of leverage. I think Zimmerman def came out ahead though by not caving into the option since he can be an FA at 29 years old.

Posted by: Steveo11 | April 20, 2009 7:05 PM | Report abuse

"I run a large organization myself, and these kind (sic) of seemingly minor things are usually reflective (sic) a deep, endemic disfunction (sic) from the top down.

Posted by: terseterse629 | April 20, 2009 5:08 PM


them kinda miner thingys?

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 20, 2009 7:09 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Section506 | April 20, 2009 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Isn't Kasten pretty much on record about never doing a no-trade contract?

Posted by: nunof1 | April 20, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Zimmerman's contract includes no club options; this was one of the final hold-ups in the deal. All along, the Nationals wanted an option year. Zimmerman did not.

Glad the team tried for an option year. That escalation in year 5 to $14 million puts him ahead of so many All Stars but guess it should be evaluated by the $9 million average.

Ryan now has enough money for a lifetime if managed well.

Maybe 5 years from now he signs another deal so you never know.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | April 20, 2009 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Is it true that every single player that makes it to the majors sees themselves playing for the Yankees at some point during their career?

Posted by: 6thandD | April 20, 2009 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Can you please tell us more about the charity work tie ins? From what I heard, that is unique to this contract. Thanks!

Posted by: Elyse315 | April 21, 2009 5:24 PM | Report abuse

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