[Update] Nats, Zimmerman agree to contract extension
The Nationals and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman have agreed to terms on six-year $100 million extension with a full no-trade clause. There is also a club option for $18 million. A press conference is expected to be held later today at Space Coast Stadium.
Zimmerman is one of six players –Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Troy Tulowitzki, Ryan Braun 2020, Matt Kemp are the others — signed through 2019.
The team had until the end of Saturday to get a deal done with Zimmerman, who hinted on Friday afternoon that he wanted a no-trade clause in his contract. Zimmerman has two years left on his current deal worth $26 million.
“It’s a relief. It’s a lot of stuff to work out. It’s a big commitment. Things like that don’t get done quickly,” Zimmerman said before having his press conference. “Both sides worked tirelessly to get this stuff done. Now, we don’t have to worry about it anymore.”
On Saturday night, general manager Mike Rizzo said there were no major stumbling blocks to complete a deal.
“We don’t have a deal done yet, but we have made significant progress,” Rizzo said Saturday. “We feel good about it and optimistic that we can reach an agreement, but there are some small details that we have to iron out through tonight and tomorrow.
“Hopefully, tomorrow, [by] the time we see [members of the media], 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 is considered the face of the franchise. He was selected in the first round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft and became the most popular player in franchise history. In six years, he has won two silver slugger awards, a gold glove and made one All-Star appearance.
“Zim has been our centerpiece since he came up to the big leagues. He was our top prospect,” reliever Tyler Clippard said. “And when I got here, he was the man. I think it’s important to an organization to show loyalty to a guy that has been loyal to them and has done so many things for the organization on and off the field. It’s just says a lot about what kind management we have and the direction that we are going.”
Said Shortstop Ian Desmond, “It’s just another indication that organization is moving in the right direction. … To see Zim happy at home and not have to work about that anymore, it’s going to be nice. It’s good that the deal got done. It’s kind of a good faith-type thing. I think it would have gotten ugly if the deal didn’t get done. I’m happy for him. We definitely need him.”
Zimmerman originally had a self-imposed deadline of 10:00 a.m. ET on Saturday. Zimmerman said he didn’t want to talk about his contract after that day, for he didn’t want to become a distraction to the team.
Around 1:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, Zimmerman told the media that his agent, Brodie Van Wagenen, had come up with a creative solution to bridge the gap between the two sides. Zimmerman then said he wanted the deal to be done by the end of Saturday.
“Both sides are working to try to get over the last … couple of hurdles,” Zimmerman said. “We are both trying to be creative. It will be either yes or no, today. We’ll have closure either way. It’s something to ensure me that I will be here because that’s the reason I’m signing the deal. That’s basically the only thing left.
“Like I said all along, we can concentrate on baseball and not have you guys [the media] worry about it anymore and — more importantly — my teammates and myself.”
Van Wagenen was seen talking to Rizzo at the Nationals’ Spring Training complex on Wednesday. The two sides also talked Thursday and Friday without coming close to a deal.
Zimmerman is coming off an injury-plagued 2011 season in which he hit .289 with 12 home runs and 49 RBIs across 101 games. He missed significant time because of an abdominal injury.
Van Wagenen and the Nationals have been in serious discussions about an extension for Zimmerman since the Winter Meetings last December.
“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,” Van Wagenen said in a statement. “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.”