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Zimmerman, Nationals Agree To Five-Year, $45 Million Deal

Until at least 2013, Ryan Zimmerman will play for the Washington Nationals -- the team that drafted him, and the team that has now affirmed his role in its future. Zimmerman and the Nationals have agreed to a five-year, $45 million contract, two industry sources said tonight. A news conference is expected tomorrow afternoon.

The agreement ends years of negotiations between the club and Zimmerman's agent, Brodie Van Wagenen, and signals Washington's interest in retaining the young core of its team. Zimmerman, though, has always been identified as its most important part. Drafted in the first round of 2005, Zimmerman became a full-time starter just one year later. He played in college at the University of Virginia. Though he has never made an all star game or won a gold glove, the Nationals feel both are in his future.

Asked earlier this weekend what a long-term deal with Zimmerman would mean, Manager Manny Acta said, "It will mean a lot for the kid, the franchise and our fans. Whenever it happens, it's gonna be worth it, because this guy means a lot to this ballclub, to this city, to our fans. And he deserves it. It will give him an opportunity to relax and just continue to do what he's been doing for us."

Negotiations on this long-term deal had persisted despite General Manager Jim Bowden's resignation at the end of February and, more recently, a publicly stated deadline. When Zimmerman agreed in March to a one-year, $3.325-million contract, both the third baseman and team officials expressed a desire to strike a multiyear contract before Opening Day. When Opening Day passed without an agreement, however, Zimmerman wanted to put things on hold; he disliked the idea of contract dealings interfering with the regular season.

But quietly, Van Wagenen and team President Stan Kasten negotiated.

The five-year deal begins immediately, overriding the $3.325-million deal Zimmerman was due to earn. Without a new contract, Zimmerman would have been eligible for free agency following the 2011 season.

Coming off an injury-interrupted 2008, Zimmerman had reason to delay the signing of a long-term deal. But Zimmerman saw no benefit in waiting, even while coming off career-lows in home runs and RBI. Plus, his sustained strong play in the final months of 2008 offset many concerns about his worth.

"It just gets to the point where you think, 'How much [money] do you really need? How much do you need, and do you really want to be here?' I think that's the most important thing," Zimmerman said earlier this year. "The whole point of being a free agent and having a negotiating power is to play where you want to want to play. And I don't really need to go into that. I'm happy here."

By Chico Harlan  |  April 19, 2009; 8:38 PM ET
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Next: One Day, A Lot Of Surprises




Posted by: alifaxwa2 | April 19, 2009 8:48 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: swang30 | April 19, 2009 8:49 PM | Report abuse

"If Zimmerman signs a long-term deal, after seeing what's going on, I will eat my 1954 Senators' "W" hat.

Posted by: JohnRDC | April 19, 2009 11:23 AM "

JohnRDC, where and when will you be eating your hat? I'm sure I'm not the only one who would like to watch that. Indeed, you might get a bigger crowd than today's Nats-Marlins game to come!

Posted by: nunof1 | April 19, 2009 8:50 PM | Report abuse

hes crazy.

Posted by: DER27 | April 19, 2009 8:54 PM | Report abuse

Cha-ching, Zimm!

...and would you like fries with that hat? ;-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 19, 2009 8:55 PM | Report abuse

A light at the end of a dark tunnel of a day. Congrats Z.

Posted by: cokedispatch | April 19, 2009 8:55 PM | Report abuse

Great news. Gotta love the moves over the last couple days...

Posted by: Cavalier83 | April 19, 2009 8:59 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Mental5 | April 19, 2009 9:00 PM | Report abuse

How bizarre to feel optimistic about this weekend! The Nats did the right thing several times this week. They made a long-term commitment to the right guy. They stopped kidding themselves that Lastings Milledge had the talent, temperament and maturity to be their leadoff man and centerfielder. And they didn't sit back and say the bullpen will come around with time. When you're down, the first step is to be honest about where you are and what you have to do. Teams like the Lions and the L.A. Clippers can't seem to do this and, to a certain extent, neither can the Redskins. Let's hope a corner was turned.

Posted by: baltova1 | April 19, 2009 9:00 PM | Report abuse

Wait...this is good news. I don't know how to handle this...What do i do???

Posted by: Naugatuck-Nats | April 19, 2009 9:07 PM | Report abuse

^ Great post!

Posted by: Tom8 | April 19, 2009 9:08 PM | Report abuse

I'm sort of with you, baltova1. There's some light at the end of the tunnel:

1. Starting pitcher, especially Cabrera and Olsen, improving with JZimm on the way.
2. Hitting is OK, although not timely.
3. Widely deserved demotion of Thrilledge et al seems to send a message.
4. Removing The Bard, the Mackowiak of 2009, means more playing time for Dancin' Wil Nieves.
5. Maybe we can apply for federal disaster relief for the condition of the bullpen.
6. Somebody please revive Uncle Teddy after he saw all the zeroes in Zimm's $45M contract. The price of square foot rents at White Flint just jumped 10 percent.

Too bad it took 1-and-10 to jump-start this brain-dead crew. Somebody please inform Rizzo the season started April 6, not April 20. This is a like a handicap race where we've spotted the field 10 lengths.

I'm going out Monday for the start of the new Zimm-Zimm (Zimm Squared) era. Go, Nats.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | April 19, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

Great! I know he's a serious young man but this is a kid's game, meant to be played with a sense of joy. I'd like to see Ryan Zimmerman smile now, something I haven't seen him do in a long time.

Posted by: stevestegman | April 19, 2009 9:20 PM | Report abuse

Tying up Zim for what amounts to 2 years beyond his Arb years, I just hope there are additional option years.

This is a great sign of ownership commitment because they just forked out an additonal $5.5 mill to Zim for this year over that $3.3 they were obligated too, and the reward would be seeing Zim circa 2006.

Sure the team is losing, but the glass is 1/2 full. There is offense and starting pitching is show signs of hope.

Beimel and Taveres have been good in the pen.

Let's get on a winning streak and turn this mess around.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | April 19, 2009 9:21 PM | Report abuse

Regarding tomorrow, and Zimmermann's first start....

Has anyone noticed the weather forecast? Looks like a rainout. I wasn't a fan of making him throw a simulated game last week, and so I wonder what they'll do with him this time.

Posted by: VelocityAtrocity | April 19, 2009 9:24 PM | Report abuse

Maybe, just maybe the start of Jordan Zimmermann will mark the rebound of this team. I like the new attitude of Manny, or maybe it is just the public attitude. Maybe it is more that the shadow of the gallows has a way of focusing this manager and the higher levels of this team. I like the idea that this team is finally desperate enough to start asking its players to play at a major league level or else. Manny's visible emotion tonight after the game is probably only an iota of the cauldron that is taking place in upper management meeting room this evening. The Nats and this franchise are clearly at a tipping point. The winning has to start or else there will nobody in the seats at all for a long time. I think the long term "plan" just got suddenly revised.

Posted by: driley | April 19, 2009 9:27 PM | Report abuse

I think the Learners now understand how much they have been PWNED.

Great to see these moves...FINALLY!

Posted by: Mental5 | April 19, 2009 9:32 PM | Report abuse

Fanhouse is reporting No Option years. A shame.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | April 19, 2009 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Great news, the guy deserves the money -- he's a first class ballplayer and a good guy representing the ball club. And something that the paying customers really, really wanted. I think the ownership is finally getting it.

Posted by: raymitten | April 19, 2009 9:51 PM | Report abuse

No option years? So essentially the owners pay for two more years beyond FA eligibility and then Zimmerman is gone and he still will be under 30. So the reality is when the dude is in in his prime between say 28-32 he will be as far away from here as can be, probably playing 3rd base for the Mets.

To bad the Monday News Conference doesn't include the axe for "Manny"!

Posted by: TippyCanoe | April 19, 2009 9:59 PM | Report abuse

why would zim want to stay a nat? this team will never win.

Posted by: rachel216 | April 19, 2009 10:05 PM | Report abuse

From Zims point of view you can't blame him. If the Learners can provide a winning team he will re-up (subject to negotiation). If not he gave it his best and was very patient with the owners.

This is a good move by a truly good guy.

Posted by: Mental5 | April 19, 2009 10:07 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, or in 2013 the team will be markedly better and Zim will sign another long term deal here. I'm still optimistic about the future of the team, despite the awful start. It seems that accepting the status quo is no longer going to cut it. This is good. Sure, it took a bit longer than many of us felt necessary, but the times, they are a changin'.

Posted by: Cavalier83 | April 19, 2009 10:08 PM | Report abuse

No option years is ok with me. If the ownership makes the commitment to compete in two years (which they seem to be doing with this signing and also with the hopeful signing of Strasburg) then Zimm will still not want to go anywhere else when his contract is up. If the Nats still stink by '13 then i'd leave too.

Posted by: enstage | April 19, 2009 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Coach on BPG was right. As usual.

Get in there Zimm

Get in there>

Posted by: Brue | April 19, 2009 10:12 PM | Report abuse

First move the Nationals have made since the Lerner's took over, that I can finally say I agree with. Still glad I didn't re-up my tickets. Probably won't until the Lerner's no longer own the team.

Posted by: dccavalier | April 19, 2009 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Remember, but for three blown routine saves, we would have swept the Marlins.

We are a much better team than last year, just VERY unlucky.

Posted by: Mental5 | April 19, 2009 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Not to rain on a parade, but this supposedly long-term commitment just means the Nats have him for an additional 2 years. For his sake, I hope they build a real major-league team by then.

Posted by: fischy | April 19, 2009 10:33 PM | Report abuse

Zimm is far from crazy. On any other team he is a journeyman/good player. He is Willigham with slightly better defense. On this half arsed team he it the 'face of the franchise'. Good for him.

But this a 'pretty good' player committing himself to terrible team. Sorry guys this leaves me feeling cold and indifferent.

Posted by: soundbloke | April 19, 2009 10:39 PM | Report abuse

"Hey Nats Front Office... Do whatever it takes to make it happen, but HIRE DAVE JOHNSON!!!"

Davey Johnson? What a laugh. Sure he was a good manager, 'was' being the operative word there. He doesn't want to manage any more, lacks the fire in the belly. Couldn't even handle the grind of managing a team of all stars in the WBC. Wanted to take off the day of a semifinal game to go to a wedding! (Although to his credit he did finally realize the folly of his ways and changed his plan.) But still, there's no effin way he wants to become the manager of a rebuilding team.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 19, 2009 10:41 PM | Report abuse

That is the bet the Lerners made fischy.

I think they have been finally humbled enough, especialy with the attendance and "feel" for the team.

As I said, this is not a construction project that you build and sit back and collect profits. It never ends and there are others building faster and better.

They are "Lerning".

Posted by: Mental5 | April 19, 2009 10:43 PM | Report abuse

I guess I got my wish for demotions. If only they sent Clint to AAA with the others...

Posted by: nervousnatsfan | April 19, 2009 11:04 PM | Report abuse

Congratulations to Zimmerman.
And to Zimmermann, Bergmann, Mock, and Wells.

It is good that management finally figured out that you should staff your roster with the best players rather than playing asset games. Pretty stupid game really. Bergmann and Mock had earned their spots on the team.

Tragic accident with Bernadina. I wish him the best of luck and speedy recovery. Congratulations to Maxwell. I hope he can play enough to demonstrate the value that I think he has.

I'm not sure how I feel about Rizzo because I don't know to what degree the decisions on the opening day roster were his or the changes since. His anger today was well justified, but I saw no quote accepting responsibility for having made poor decisions to start with. So far he has released Hill, initially picked Ledezma (a journeyman who has a poor record) over Bergmann, and allowed the team roster to be dictated by convienence rather than talent. I think he made a good move on Milledge and good moves today. But his next decision will be a big one and he will have to make it everyday until this team turns it around. He has to decide to keep or not keep Manny Acta each day.

I'm currently thinking keep him. You can't blame a manager for bad relief pitching. But at some point, you do have to win some games. Acta thinks remaining calm is better. Not always.

Posted by: natbiscuits | April 19, 2009 11:20 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Juan-John | April 19, 2009 11:22 PM | Report abuse

Good for Zim but in 5 years be will go somewhere new or be traded because we will still be NL East doormats

Time for St. Clair to go as well.

Posted by: mintbucket | April 20, 2009 12:14 AM | Report abuse

Good for Zim but in 5 years be will go somewhere new or be traded because we will still be NL East doormats

Time for St. Clair to go as well.

Posted by: mintbucket | April 20, 2009

Just from this draft they will have too much talent for that to happen. They may need a new Manager and GM. But they are about 1 to 2 away now. They lost their closer and the superb bullpen. If they still had that where would they be record wise?

Its just a matter of time now.

Posted by: periculum | April 20, 2009 3:01 AM | Report abuse

I'm not in favor of firing Manny Acta, but I understand it. He's the skipper, and sometimes someone takes the fall.

But to fire St. Clair? Who do you think got Lannan, Cabrera, Olsen, and Martis pitching like they were supposed to last week? It seems woefully myopic to not notice the huge improvement in the staff because of the continued stench of the bullpen.

Posted by: Section506 | April 20, 2009 7:37 AM | Report abuse

maybe i'd be more excited if it hadn't been dribbled out the press the past week or so but...the nats only got an extra two years of him? was this really worth all the fuss? added how much money for two more years?

it's good news, but it's not great news.

this looks to set us up more and more like rolen in philly.

Posted by: longterm | April 20, 2009 7:42 AM | Report abuse

firing manny and the saint is a terrible idea. firing either would be.

Posted by: longterm | April 20, 2009 7:46 AM | Report abuse

If we get rained out today, does Zimmermann pitch tomorrow, or get skipped?

Posted by: natbiscuits | April 20, 2009 7:59 AM | Report abuse

OMG. The guy signs for 5 years and you people STILL WHINE! The guy says he's happy here and you still moan and groan.

Are you people ever happy about anything?

And to those that DO think things are going in the right direction, please post more often. We need to shout down these Philly fans here, or whomever they are who breed all this malfeasance and discontent.

Baseball is about patience!

Posted by: dand187 | April 20, 2009 8:08 AM | Report abuse

I've got to put some portion of the blame for Rivera's and Hanrahan's poor performance this year on the WBC. They apparently made it through without getting hurt (like Ayala in 2006 and Dice-K this year) but being away from the team for so many weeks during spring training had to have messed up their cycle of getting ready for the season. Hanrahan in particular did not pitch that much in the WBC, and when he did it was as a generic reliever, not a closer. Then when he got back to the Nats after Team USA lost, as I recall he didn't pitch all that much either. If nothing else, the lack of direct visibility of these two guys to the Nats' FO and coaching staff this spring may have caused them to be evaluated on past years' performance rather than how they were currently throwing when decisions were being made on who would make the team.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 20, 2009 8:14 AM | Report abuse

Daand - totally agree, but you're missing the point. The folks now complaining that it doesn't matter anyway are the same folks who were previously predicting that it would never happen - they need to say that it doesn't matter because they had tagged not signing Zimm as proof the Lerners cheeeeepness and inherent failings as human beings, so now that he's signed (hooray, btw), they need to downplay that.

Similarly, have you noticed how the haterade shower moved quickly from Milledge to Manny as soon as Milledge was sent down. Now it's Manny's fault that the bullpen - which was pegged to be the team's weakness - just had an awful series. Gotta keep up with the shifting knee-jerk reactions around here, or you'll end up getting kicked.

For one, I'm still hopeful, and though Farid and I usually disagree, I think he was way too fast to back off a "The Nats could go 76-75 the rest of the way" - I think that's possible. The offense is better than I thought and better than last year - it's early, but it's looking solidly like a middle-of-the-road or slightly-better offense. If the bullpen moves help get us to slightly-worse-than-mediocre pitching staff, I don't see why we couldn't end up with mostly-mediocre record. 1-10 is what it is, but you don't have to squint too hard to see how this team could be 4-7 or even 5-6 right now, so with that in mind, and the knowledge that luck evens out over the course of the season, I don't see why 76-75 the rest of the way is so totally unreasonable.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | April 20, 2009 8:41 AM | Report abuse

@ Highway295Revisited: IAWTP

Posted by: Meridian1 | April 20, 2009 8:50 AM | Report abuse

ok, dand187, point taken. Here goes.

I'm very glad we signed Zim. I think Rizzo's influence is a good one (Milledge, rule enforcement, bullpen overhaul, etc). In fact, I even think he'll be a better influence on Manny, maybe pull him out of his minor-league, develop-the-kids mentality into the big-league WIN mentality.

I loved Kearnsy's awesome put-out at the plate yesterday. And Dunn's diving miss, god bless him. I have a good feeling about Beimel. (He looks like an old John Wayne type and his music matches it). I like Clint's new partner in the stands (she speaks way more clearly and professionally).

Even though we're stranding people on bases, I'm way, way more comfortable with this lineup, pretty much all the way through. For example, guy comes up to bat and instead of thinking "he has to come through or we're finished," I'm thinking "no worries, if he gets out so-and-so is coming up." That's a good feeling.

And, my gawd, the patience at the plate. It's a huge, huge, huge difference from the Lenny-Harris-Hackfest days. It's one of my favorite improvements from last year.

And finally, when I look down at the field, I can see a semblence of a core team that could be here for awhile and could probably win well together down the road. It's currently pushing my limits of loyalty and optimism, but if I squint I can see the winning team.

Go Nats!

Posted by: NatsNut | April 20, 2009 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and nova_g_man, from a couple posts ago about our lineup. I cracked up at your not-quite Murderer's Row, but at least Negligent Homiciders Row. LOL!

Posted by: NatsNut | April 20, 2009 9:06 AM | Report abuse

OK, Zim, earn the freaking money! No excuses. You've got guys in the lineup offering protection and RBI opps, you are healthy, the contract is settled, this is your 4th full season.

Make sure that everyone is Nats Town -- and beyond -- knows that you are worth every penny.

Posted by: dfh21 | April 20, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

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