While it’s largely a formality at this point, Gio Gonzalez is now officially under contract with the Nationals for 2018. His $12MM option vested once he reached 180 innings pitched, which he did by retiring Braves leadoff man Ender Inciarte tonight.
The option year is the final one on the extension that Gonzalez signed not long after being acquired by the Nats in advance of the 2012 season. It guaranteed him $42MM over five years, but he also will have earned another $24MM over the two option seasons.
Gonzalez has had his ups and downs, but on the whole has returned huge value to the Nats on the trade and the contract. He has provided over one thousand innings of 3.43 ERA ball over six seasons in D.C. And Gonzaez has never been more effective than in 2017. Entering tonight’s outing, he carried a sparkling 2.50 ERA with 8.2 K/9 against 3.5 BB/9.
Given that performance, the Nationals will be plenty happy to fork over another twelve million bucks to Gonzalez, who’ll turn 32 in a week. That’s not to say, though, that he’s anything close to a sure thing to repeat his outstanding campaign. Gonzalez has lost quite a bit of velocity — 1.5 mph down from last year and 3.5 mph from his 2012 peak — and carries a lower swinging-strike rate (8.7%) than ever before as a National.