The Nationals and right-hander Jordan Zimmermann have agreed to a two-year, $24MM deal to avoid arbitration, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter). Zimmermann, a client of Relativity Baseball (formerly known as SFX), will earn $7.5MM in 2014 and $16.5MM in 2015, Sherman adds. The contract buys out Zimmermann's final two years of arbitration but no free agent years.
Zimmermann, 27, has emerged as perhaps the most consistent pitcher in the Nationals' rotation. The former second-round pick has pitched to a 3.12 ERA with 6.9 K/9, 1.8 BB/9 and a 43.8 percent ground-ball rate in 570 1/3 innings since his return from Tommy John surgery in 2011. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had projected Zimmermann to earn $10.5MM in 2014, so he likely took a hit on his 2014 salary in exchange for the security of locking in a significant payday in 2015.
The Nationals have made no secret about the fact that they'd prefer to keep Zimmermann around well beyond his final two years of arbitration, and I'd imagine that they'll continue to discuss a longer contract extension between now and Opening Day.