Nationals, Zimmerman Agree To Extension

The Nationals brought in several new players this offseason, but they may have just made their most important move. Washington has agreed to terms on a new $100MM six-year contract extension with Ryan Zimmerman, with a club option for a seventh year worth $24MM. In conjunction with his current deal, the new agreement can keep the 27-year-old in the nation's capital through 2020 if the option is exercised. Saturday was the Brodie Van Wagenen client's self-imposed deadline for a new deal.

Icon_13487393Zimmerman, 27, was already under contract through 2013 thanks to the five-year, $40MM contract he signed in April 2009. He is slated to earn $12MM this season and $14MM next season, and would have become a free agent this winter had he not signed that first extension. No-trade protection was said to be the final hurdle in talks and the new deal will provide Zimmerman with a full no-trade clause.

The third baseman also agreed to $10MM personal services deferral in order to give the Nationals flexibility, tweets Jon Heyman of  Zimmerman's current contract will remain unchanged, Mark Zuckerman of tweets.

Since making his big league debut a few weeks after being the fourth overall pick in 2005, Zimmerman is a .288/.355/.479 career hitter with four 20+ homer and four 30+ double seasons to his credit. Over the last three years, he's produced a .296/.370/.499 batting line with a Gold Glove, an All-Star Game berth, two Silver Sluggers, and a pair of top-25 finishes in the MVP voting. Only Evan Longoria and Adrian Beltre have posted a better UZR at the hot corner than Zimmerman (+24.6 UZR) since 2009. In terms of wins over replacement, he's been the 12th most valuable position player in baseball over the last three seasons (17.1 WAR).

As with every long-term contract, the Nationals are assuming a significant amount of risk. Zimmerman missed more than two months due to abdominal surgery last summer, and he missed close to two months with a shoulder problem in 2008. After playing in 150+ games in his first two full seasons, he's topped the 150-game plateau just once in the last four years. Although he's an excellent defender at the hot corner at the moment, Zimmerman may have to move to first towards the end of the deal, a move that will be easier to swallow if third base prospect and 2011 sixth overall pick Anthony Rendon develops as expected.

GM Mike Rizzo has ensured that his core can remain intact through at least 2015. Zimmerman, Jayson Werth, Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Danny Espinosa, Wilson Ramos, Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen, Rendon, and Bryce Harper are all under contract or team control for at least another four seasons. Center field remains a long-term question, but next offseason's free agent crop offers a number of excellent candidates, including B.J. Upton, Michael Bourn, and Shane Victorino.

As our Extension Tracker shows, Zimmerman's contract is the fifth $100MM+ extension handed out over the last calendar year, and the third multi-year extension given out by the Nationals this offseason. Mike Morse (two years, $10.5MM) and Gonzalez (five years, $42MM) also signed for multiple years this winter while Zimmermann and Clippard remain extension candidates as well. Washington is very clearly a team on the rise, and now they know their franchise player will be around when the rebuild results in a playoff spot.

Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post first reported the agreement while Buster Olney of (via Twitter) reported the contract length.  Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio (via Twitter) reported the deal's worth.  Mark Zuckerman of tweeted that the option year is worth $24MM.

Mike Axisa contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.

100 Responses to Nationals, Zimmerman Agree To Extension Leave a Reply

  1. The Nationals are going all-in. Dynasty-or-nothing style.

    • nm344 3 years ago

      How about getting to the playoffs first before talking about any dynasties.

      • redsx968 3 years ago

        That would be the “nothing” side of his prediction

      • As redsx968 said, that would be the nothing side. They’re banking on the guys they’re locking up to carry them into a dynasty, and if they don’t it’s gonna be nothing at all.

  2. HalfSt 3 years ago

    Every team’s fans deserve to have a franchise player that plays his entire career with the team. Zimmerman is clearly that player for the Nats. Here’s hoping he puts together a HOF career with a guarantee that his plaque in Cooperstown sports a curly W.


    • TophersReds 3 years ago

      He still has a ways to go before being a HOF’er, so I wouldn’t start that talk right now. Anything can happen, but he needs to put up a few monster years for it to become a discussion.

      • FacelessGeneralManager 3 years ago

        “Here’s hoping he puts together a hall of fame career”

        • TophersReds 3 years ago

          “Anything can happen, but he needs to put up a few monster years for it to become a discussion.”

          I was just pointing out that he hasn’t shown HOF numbers quite yet, and needs to have a few MVP-type years for it to become a serious discussion. Sure, I hope he gets it done too, he seems like a good guy.

          • JCCfromDC 3 years ago

             If he continues to win gold gloves and silver slugger awards, and putting up >7 WAR seasons on a regular basis, he’s going to be part of the conversation.  But we’ll save that for 2030 :-)

          • JCCfromDC 3 years ago

             If he continues to win gold gloves and silver slugger awards, and putting up >7 WAR seasons on a regular basis, he’s going to be part of the conversation.  But we’ll save that for 2030 :-)

    • Cheeseballs 3 years ago

      Marine corps

    • LazerTown 3 years ago

      He has 128 hr and he is already 27. There is no way he gets hof unless he starts hitting 40 a year for the next 7 years

      • JCCfromDC 3 years ago

         If HR are the only ticket to the HoF, then you’d probably be right.  But if he holds his career arc he won’t be Mike Schmidt, but he could easily be better than Brooks Robinson.

    • Jesse 3 years ago

      I’m sure there were Expos players in the early years that stayed their whole career not sure if they were fan favorites

  3. Chuck Norris 3 years ago

    Oh the Nationals are coming..

  4. NYBravosFan10 3 years ago

    Oh good now we get to listen to the Nats announcer talk about how he is the absolute best player in the history of any sport and how there will never EVER be anyone like him. Good move for them though, in theory the have a great team. But theory doesn’t always work out so they need to prove that they can compete with the rest of the division.

    • kräftig. entschieden 3 years ago

      Considering the context of the players Zimmerman was playing with 05-08, you might actually begin to think that.

    • FacelessGeneralManager 3 years ago

      Orrr watch the mets broadcast and not the nats one.

  5. cgreen127 3 years ago

    and the mets hopes of ever competing in the next 10 years continue to decline

  6. kräftig. entschieden 3 years ago

    Won’t say anything until the monetary details come out, but if they got 6+1 club option, my immediate gut reaction is that this is a good deal.

  7. Kj4realz 3 years ago

    Excellent. Even as a Phillies fan, I love this move.

  8. FacelessGeneralManager 3 years ago

    Gunna wait till contract $ come out to say for sure. But im thinking this is gunna be a great deal for the Nats. Loved how these negotiations went, no drama, and if zim took a hometown discount, just awesome!!! Love the guy.

    • Casor_Greener 3 years ago

      6/100 big risk for an injury prone player.

      • What exactly constitutes “injury prone”? Getting injured 3 times over 6 seasons?

        Over the past 6 seasons, only 47 players have played in more games than Zimmerman. 1,940 players have played fewer.

        • Casor_Greener 3 years ago

          You aren’t paying those players 16M either.  I wouldn’t give that much money to someone who has played over 150 games 1x in the last 4 years and he barely reached the 140 mark in one of those seasons.

          I call that injury prone, YMMV

          • You mean like Alex Rodriguez, Joe Mauer, Todd Helton, Carlos Beltran, Jason Bay or Alfonso Soriano? They all made much more than $16mil per year and played in fewer games than Zimmerman over that same period.

          • Casor_Greener 3 years ago

            I’m pretty sure they were playing more than 140 games when they signed those contracts.

  9. Phadreus 3 years ago

    As a Nats fan I am excited.  He is an elite defender at 3B and a top 5 hitters there as well.  Because of his age, he is probably worth a little more than Beltre year to year.  

    • nm344 3 years ago

      Elite defenders should probably accumulate more than 0.2 dWAR over their career according to B-R.

      • monkeyking42 3 years ago

        If you use Fangraphs’ WAR (based on UZR rather than TZ, and generally considered to be better, although both are still rough approximations), he’s been +52.3 runs better than average.  So, something like 5.2 dWAR

        • nm344 3 years ago

          Well UZR hates him last year.

          • JCCfromDC 3 years ago

             And all of the people who try to construct defensive metrics acknowledge that individual seasons vary wildly, which is why they generally try to get three seasons worth of data. Last year Zimmerman was coming back from abdominal surgery. 

          • monkeyking42 3 years ago

            Right.  One season of UZR is better than nothing, but you should never look at just one season when you can look at 2 or 3.

      • Phadreus 3 years ago

        I dont mind using B-R for certain things, but Fangraphs is definitely better on the defensive metrics side.  

  10. Brian McKeever 3 years ago

    All those who have previously said that the Nats were essentially a big league farm club like the old Expos and just getting Zimmerman, Strasburg and Harper ready to play the prime of their careers in New York and Boston now have to admit they were wrong.  The Nats have one of the richest ownership groups in baseball and definitely have the cash to hold on to all of these guys for a long time to come.

    • johnsilver 3 years ago

      A team gets the 1st overall pick often enough (Strasburg, Harper) or keeps getting top 5 picks over a 7-8 year period (Zimmrman) and they are bound to get the pick of the talent, as long as they don’t draft/scout like say Houston does and spend enough on bonuses..

      lets give a little bit of being in the wrong place at the right time here.. Last place the year before when the top talent in the draft was available…

      As for how will things go now, if they can turn it around? It’s a different ballgame drafting talents in the middle/bottom of the pack as Washington may find out if all these “lotto picks” do pay off.

      • natsnation21 3 years ago

        You listed literally every example of the Nats having a top-5 pick since they’ve come to DC. Over that 7-8 year period you mentioned, they picked in the top 5 three times. As for other players, Ramos was acquired through trade, Zimmermann was a 2nd rounder, Espinosa was a 3rd rounder, and the players traded to Oakland were two 2nd rounders, a 10th rounder, and a 41st rounder. It’s not that they were just handed great players with high picks, it’s that they actually scouted and picked out great players, and got value outside the first round.

        • johnsilver 3 years ago

          3 lotto picks over a 7 year period was enough and more than many teams get.

          My point is that when/if they get to where they are competitive and in the + .500 side most every year, they will cease having any top 15, even top 20 picks at all and drafting talent changes drastic and is more of investing into scouting, rather than picking who is the obvious choice.

          They have done a superb job of taking players, regardless of the cost so far and nobody can fault them there. Some teams have passed because they have not wanted to pay the large bonuses and gotten sub par talent as a result and the nationals have capitalized when they have been in a position to get a lotto pick and teams should do that, not a dice there, but there is a reason for having some of these top players and that was my point.

          • Thomas Wilson 3 years ago

            tell that to the Pirates of 94-10 or the Royals of 92-10

          • FacelessGeneralManager 3 years ago

            I really dont get what ur saying. Nationals have good scouting and will keep drafting well. The only thing that the top picks did was speed up the rebuild immensly.

          • johnsilver 3 years ago

            It was not a dice on their scouting.. Thought made that clear.. getting those 3 picks was GOOD as thought made clear..

            going forward they are going to have to MAINTAIN scouting and drafting **if** they play above .500 and I mentioned that, cause those lotto picks and numbers of top 10-15 picks will become non existent now.

            nat’s HAVE spent well to get the talent when it has been available..OME teams have not and passed..Due to signability and DC did NOT.

            They just have to maintain that and if anything?? Do even better with picks NOW being in the 15 and HIGHER range.

            Hope that clears things up.

      • FunkyTime 3 years ago

        What relevance does any of that have to the post you replied to?

  11. Like this a lot for the Nats. Zimmerman just entering his prime and they get a bit of a discount. 

  12. FacelessGeneralManager 3 years ago

    Wow! Awesome contract! I was really thinking more like 125 million. Love this deal!! Didnt handcuff the nats at all and finally we can move on from worrying whats gunna happen to zim. Hes a nat!!!!

  13. LUWahooNatFan 3 years ago

    I’d like to point out I predicted 6 years/100 million

  14. Encarnacion's Parrot 3 years ago

    Great news for the Nats. If he comes back to his 5+ WAR self, nevermind 7+ WAR, this will be a steal.

    Now lock up the other half of the Zimmermen!

  15. UltimateYankeeFan 3 years ago

    Seems like a great deal for the Nationals at $16.67MM per and a good deal for Zimmerman.  He obviously has absolutely no worries about his or his families future.
    It’s good to see some of the teams that previously had been doormats rising up it only makes everyone better in the long run.

  16. Matt 3 years ago

    Gerardo Parra for Espinoza with Lombo to take over this year at second and Rendon the year after.

  17. kräftig. entschieden 3 years ago

    Not to be lost in this is that 10 million of the 100 million (per Jon Heyman) comes in a deferred personal services deal, which doesn’t actually add to the payroll. So really it’s 6/90 or 8/116 or 9/140 if they exercise the club option, depending on how you want to look at it. It seems really unlikely that the club will exercise a 24MM option on Zimmerman at 35, but you never know.

    • garylanglais 3 years ago

      Unless you’re concerned with the Nats getting close to the $178m luxury tax threshold or the $189m (from 2014-2016) then the deferred $10m is relatively insignificant.  The team still has to pay the $10m so it’s not like the team gets any discount. 

      Only benefit is they would be able to find a way to drop $10m of player salaries to avoid the luxury tax.  However, the Nats have never had a $70m payroll.  However, this year they will likely be in $85m neighborhood.

      • kräftig. entschieden 3 years ago

        I’m saying that it’s about 1.2 million in payroll/year AAV, since it doesn’t kick in until after he’s retired. It’s not a lot, but it can provide a little more flexibility.

  18. BitLocker 3 years ago

    Good signing as long as he stays healthy.

  19. Todd Smith 3 years ago

    I like the quote from the anonymous executive:

    “seems like they have 2 $100M contracts but no $100M players.”

  20. Michael_Jordan 3 years ago

     I make $100MM per day. jk. Zimmer better stay healthy.

  21. Way too much risk to make this a good deal.  

  22. Bradley Spies 3 years ago

     They’re going to try Rendon at 2B and SS during spring training.  IMO long term (as long as Zim has the range for 3B) it’d be nice to have Rendon at 2B, Espinosa at SS, and Zim at 3B if they all work out.

  23. LUWahooNatFan 3 years ago

    If Zimmerman is healthy, there is no reason at all to move him for a prospect.. 

    Zimmerman at 3rd, Espinosa at SS(his natural position), and Rendon to 2B would be my choice.

    Nationals need to draft a 1B, the farm’s pretty dry besides Marrero and Moore and I’m not too confident that either will be successful major leaguers

  24. js_edit 3 years ago

    Also remember that it’s not “when” Rendon comes up, but “if.” The guy has a lot of talent, but he also has a history of injury and he’s let to play one single inning of professional baseball.

    During this whole Zim contract thing, and afterward, there have been people saying that the Nats shouldn’t give Zim “X” because they have Rendon “waiting in the wings.” He’s not in the wings. He hasn’t even entered the theater yet. 

  25. Phadreus 3 years ago

    Rendon to 2B, with Espinoza moving to SS (he has a SS before) or maybe Demond figuring out how to use his talent to hit and Espinoza being moved out.

  26. Phadreus 3 years ago

    I disagree that they overpaid.  This is a good deal for the team.  Overpay would have been $19M+ per.  This is barely more than Beltre got.

  27. LUWahooNatFan 3 years ago

    This is not an overpay at all, if he comes back healthy this year

  28. Guest 3 years ago

    do you know what overpay means?

  29. aaron armstrong 3 years ago

    Well, they have done a good job and I’m a big fan, but I don’t think they’re considered an expansion team – unless you go back to the Expos in 1969.

  30. LazerTown 3 years ago

    This is not a fantastic move. They are paying roughly 18 aav for an average player. Only one time has he hit more than 25 hr in a season. His obp is .355. Hardly elite level. There is no reason to give him that kind of money. That is people that should be MVP candidates not above average 3b.

  31. notsureifsrs 3 years ago

    barely? it’s 1 year and $20M more than beltre got – and the contract doesn’t even start for another 2 years and $26M

  32. Considering the state of the Expos when they moved to DC, for all intents and purposes, yes, the Nationals were an expansion team.

    In fact, they were probably worse off, as they didn’t get an expansion draft, like the Rays and Diamondbacks.
    link to

  33. FS54 3 years ago

    Don’t forget age is a factor.

  34. Thomas Wilson 3 years ago

    you mean it is 1 year and 19 million more for a guy going into his age 27 season as opposed to a guy going into his age 32 season

  35. Thomas Wilson 3 years ago

    that is a lazy way to evaluate RZa he is arguably the best defender at his position, and has been  above average with his bat every year since his age 20 season

  36. James Attwood 3 years ago

    He’s more than just an above average 3B, he’s the 2nd best 3B in the game. He is not a 40 HR guy, but his defensive skills, along with his solid batting numbers make up for that.

    As for being an MVP candidate, playing on mediocre (at BEST) teams his entire career, he’s alreadddy finished  top 25 twice. If the Nats start winning, his stock as an MVP candidate will greatly increase.

  37. garylanglais 3 years ago

    I can just as easily say this is a total deal of 9 yr/$150m.  Take the 2 years on current deal ($26m total), then the 6 years for $100m, and then 7th year for $24m.  That comes out to $16.67m AAV. 

    David Wright makes $15m this year and Mets have $16m club option for next year.  I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t surpass $16.67 AAV on his next deal.

  38. Thomas Wilson 3 years ago

    Morse to 1b, Werth to LF, Harper in RF FA for CF

  39. notsureifsrs 3 years ago

    no, i do not mean that. beltre’s deal was 5/$80M; this extension is 6/$100M. this extension does not begin for 2 years, so claiming it was given to a 27 y/o is a mistake

    it is 1 year and 20 million more for a guy going into his age 29 season as opposed to his age 32 season. that looks pretty solid until you add back in some context: the 32 y/o was signed on the open market after a healthy 7 WAR season whereas this extension was given to a player coming off an injured season worth 2.5 WAR while the team still had 2 full years of control remaining

  40. johnsilver 3 years ago

    It would seem both sides would look at beltre’s contract and go from there. Hard to believe the nats went beyond it and also gave out NT protection.

    While Zim is a good fielder also, IMO beltre’s cannon of an arm puts him in a class all by himself at 3b.

  41. sam_lammert 3 years ago

    according to your logic it wasn’t given to a player coming off an injured season worth 2.5 war, it will be given to the 29 year old and we dont know what kind of season hes going to have

  42. Jeff 3 years ago

    You’re acting like he’s Chipper Jones.

  43. MetsMagic 3 years ago

    They were NOT better off if you think about it. The expansion draft never produces anything better than the junk that came with them from Montreal.

    If it wasn’t for the Expos, and they were a true expansion team, they would’ve picked at the bottom of the 2005 draft, long after Zim was off the board. Thanks to the Expos last place finish the previous year, they were able to draft him 4th overall. 

  44. Guest 3 years ago

    ehhh its close. range i give to zimm, arm i give to beltre. both perennial GG candidates so you can’t go wrong

  45. Thomas Wilson 3 years ago

    not to mention that Beltre had been worth 13 WAR over the three years before Texas gave him a contract through age 37, this guy was worth 17 WAR and was signed through age 35

  46. notsureifsrs 3 years ago

    that doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. he was guaranteed the money right now. the fact that it won’t be paid out for another two years is complete irrelevant

  47. LazerTown 3 years ago

    but he is a 3b, not a middle infielder. He is a good player but i still stand by my analysis.  Many columnists are even now agreeing with me.

  48. The Diamondbacks won the World Series four years after they were created! There was nothing the Nats could have done short of a Yankees-esque payroll that would have gotten them anywhere close to the playoffs 4 years after they relocated.

    As a Mets fan, you have be aware of Omar Minaya’s systematic and calculated destruction of the Expos. The Expos at one point were going to be contracted, therefore Minaya essentially gave up the farm system to make one last playoff push before the Expos were dismantled. It’s the only way you could explain why someone would trade Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore and Brandon Phillips for a 2 month rental of Bartolo Colon. Not to mention the fact that the Expos budget was paid for/decided by the 29 other baseball teams for several years leading up to, and during their relocation to DC. Of course your competitors will do everything in their interest to ensure the Expos fielded the weakest team possible.

    The Nats might have had a chance in their infancy, but the league was conspiring against them for several years leading up to the move.

  49. LazerTown 3 years ago

    3b defense is overrated if you got a decent shortstop. 

    and he is not 2nd best
    arod, youkilis, Longoria are better
    beltre, aramis, young are all equal level to him. Oh and there is this guy in Miami named hanley that i would still rather have.

    He is a good player, but they could have gotten a deal done for significantly less money.

  50. LazerTown 3 years ago

    Wright got his deal because he was an elite player.  He could hit 30 hr, 30 sb, and have .400 obp.

    Way different than .350 obp, 25 hr, 2 sb.

  51. Thomas Wilson 3 years ago

    Here in Denver I remember a columnist saying the Rockies could get Halladay for Hynick, Greg Reynolds and Alan Johnson I remember another saying the Rockies should trade Tulowitzki and Ubaldo for a Halladay rental most Columnists are mentally deficient IMO. Zimmerman had two 7WAR seasons in 09-10 they would need him to be worth 16WAR over the life of this extension to make it worth it.

  52. sam_lammert 3 years ago

    good point

  53. notsureifsrs 3 years ago

    the epitome of cherry picking. dodge the numbers that don’t fit and reaaach for any that do

    everyone (including you, i’d wager) knows that beltre’s production was suppressed in seattle. outside of safeco – which kills his standout offensive tool, right-handed power – he’s been a 5-10 WAR beast

    he took a one year deal in boston in 2010, in part, to prove that. the other part? this is where it gets fun: he was injured in 2009, only played 110 games, so his market value was depressed

    guess who else played about 100 games last year? you guessed it. and he was worth less than beltre was worth while playing in seattle

    as good as he is, there is simply no way ryan zimmerman would have commanded 8/$124M as a free agent this year. no chance at all. the claim that this deal is a steal (i know that you specifically have not, but many have) is preposterous

    anyone can grab a few favorable stats, ignoring the bad ones, and call a contract ‘good’ because the player is good. that’s finger-paint level analysis

    i am a huge zimmerman fanboy, love the guy, think he’s great. but that doesn’t color my view of this contract. it’s a massive risk and even if it’s a risk worth taking, calling it a steal is absolutely absurd

  54. LUWahooNatFan 3 years ago

    Exactly, there are a number of good CF options next year on the market(Bourn, Victorino, Upton)

  55. srpwrd 3 years ago

    So decent shortstops are easy to find?

  56. Todd Smith 3 years ago

    Compared to what the home team pays to guys like Jayson Werth, then this probably is a discount.  For other teams, it’s an overpay.

  57. FacelessGeneralManager 3 years ago

    It does make sense, you even mentioned that the fact he is 29 at beginning of the contract.

  58. notsureifsrs 3 years ago

    i can’t believe more than one person has been unable to understand this

    the contract is not voidable in 2 years; it has been guaranteed now, today, to a player coming off of an injured season. the fact that the payout starts in two years as opposed to right now is entirely trivial: the contract was awarded to the player today

  59. FacelessGeneralManager 3 years ago

    your logic not mine

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