• Updated 6:00 pm EST: ESPN.com's Enrique Rojas (@Enrique_Rojas1) reported on the Gio Gonzalez deal on Twitter, writing, "Gio Gonzalez signs 5 years $42 million dollars extension with #Nats. 2 years option will elevate contract to $65 million." Mr. Rojas is the only source at the moment quoting salary information. In a statement this afternoon, D.C. GM Mike Rizzo said today's deal provided comfort to both the team and the player, with the two options years (which are team options) important to the Nationals in that they solidified the top of the rotation for the near future.
• 3:00 pm EST: The Washington Nationals avoided arbitration with one of the seven players who filed for it this past Friday night, agreeing on a contract extension which goes through the 2016 season with recently-acquired left-hander Gio Gonzalez. The deal also includes options for the 2017 and 2018 campaigns. Terms of the deal were not disclosed in Sunday's press release, but it buys out all of the arbitration-eligible years for Gonzalez (a Super Two player), as well as covering his first free agent year in 2016 and two years of his potential free agency in 2017-18. The Nationals acquired the 26-year-old left-hander in a December 23rd deal that sent right-handers Brad Peacock and A.J. Cole, left-hander Tom Milone and top catching prospects Derek Norris to Oakland in return for the now-former A's lefty and right-hander Robert Gilliam.
Part of the appeal of the '04 1st Round pick who was coming off a (16-12) 2011 season in which he had a 3.12 ERA, 3.64 FIP, a league-leading 91 walks (4.05 BB/9) and 197 K's (8.78 K/9) in 32 starts and 202.0 IP was that he was young, controllable and met, "All the prerequisites that we had to have for a deal of this magnitude," as D.C. GM Mike Rizzo explained at the time of the trade. Gonzalez, the Nats' general manager said, is, "... a young power-throwing left-hander. He's got plus, plus stuff. Being a left-hander was really a key to this. We feel that he matches up very nicely between our two power right-handers [Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann]."
The Nationals had been clear about their plans to pursue a top-of-the-rotation arm all winter, initially focusing their efforts on signing 32-year-old left-hander Mark Buehrle, but when he signed a 4-year deal with the Miami Marlins, the Nats shifted their focus to trade discussions with the A's which had begun before the Winter Meetings in early December.
The deal with Gonzalez leaves the Nationals with six players (Michael Morse, John Lannan, Jesus Flores, Jordan Zimmermann, Tom Gorzelanny and Tyler Clippard) who are up for arbitration and due significant raises through the process. Both sides have until Tuesday to exchange figures. If no deals are reached, the team and players would go before an arbitrator at some point in the first three weeks of February.