The Washington Nationals, as they note in a press release today about Ryan Zimmerman's 6-year/$100M dollar extension, had (in their words) a busy and "enormously productive" winter before they agreed on the deal with Zimmerman that will keep the face of the Nats franchise in the nation's capital through 2019 with an option for the 2020 season. Before the announcement today of the extension which leaves Zimmerman with an 8-year/$126M dollar deal, the Nationals, "... added left-handed starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez via trade, right-handed starter Edwin Jackson as a free agent and right-handed reliever Brad Lidge as a free agent." They signed Gonzalez, a 26-year-old left-hander, to a 5-year/$42M dollar extension, signed 29-year-old slugger Michael Morse to a 2-year/$10.5M dollar extension and today locked Zimmerman up through his 35th birthday.
CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) reported on Twitter that he heard, "Zimmerman agreed to $10M personal services deferral, so $10M of $126M won't count as payroll, giving Nats flexibility." In explaining the thinking behind the deferred money before the details were announced, Zimmerman's agent Brodie Van Wagenen wrote late Saturday night in an email to reporters that the deal was almost done with the two sides trying to make sure it didn't hinder the Nats' ability to make future deals, writing that they were, "... 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."
The Nats got a team-friendly deal, and as MLB.com's Bill Ladson (@washingnats) wrote on Twitter today, Zimmerman got the no-trade clause he was looking for, which as had been previously speculated, "... was the final hurdle in getting a deal done between the #Nats and Ryan Zimmerman."
It's just the second no-trade clause the Nationals have given out after including one in the 7-year/$126M dollar deal with outfielder Jayson Werth last winter. Nats' GM Mike Rizzo said the protection was necessary to get the deal with Werth done. Zimmerman told reporters this week that he wanted the no-trade clause because he wanted to be sure the deal he was agreeing on was with the Nationals. The 27-year-old slugger, who has a .288/.355/.479 line seven years into his career and has been worth +7.3 and +7.2 fWAR in his last two full seasons, reiterated today, as quoted on Twitter by NatsInsider.com's Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman), that this is a deal he'd only have agreed to with the team that drafted him with their first 1st Round pick. "'I wouldn't have done this with any other team,'" Zimmerman's quoted stating.
Nationals' principal owner Ted Lerner explained in the Nats' press release why Washington was interested in locking up the one-time All-Star, one-time Gold Glove-winner and two-time Silver Slugger Award-winning third baseman. "Ryan Zimmerman is an exceptional talent and individual," Mr. Lerner writes in the release, "He is a role model on the field, in the clubhouse and in the community. He has been the face of the Washington Nationals since baseball was returned to Washington. We are absolutely thrilled that Ryan will continue to help us build our team in a winning direction."
Though the no-trade clause doesn't cover the next two seasons, D.C. GM Mike Rizzo assured everyone in today's press conferences, as quoted by the Washington Times' Amanda Comak (@AComak) that, "'With Mike Rizzo as the GM of the Washington Nationals, he will not be traded in the next two years.'"
Asked about reports that the no-trade clause was a final stumbling block, about Zimmerman wanting to remain in D.C. for his entire career, and what beyond that may have held up the deal that was being negotiated for over a year, Zimmerman's agent Brodie Van Wagenen told MLB Network hosts Jim Bowden and Jeff Rickard on Sunday, "I think it's hard to say there's much beyond that. I think word and trust are things that matter to Ryan and as strong as words are and as strong as his relationship has been with this organization and as much faith as he has had in the people that have been building this team, I think that any hesitation to put that in writing or to put it in a contract, always leaves a little bit of doubt."
"And so, I think it became a real issue," Mr. Van Wagenen continued, "And it became something that I know Mike Rizzo and [Asst. GM] Bryan Minniti and [Director of Baseball Operations] Adam Cromie and the entire staff over with the Nationals were working on and trying to find creative solutions to bridge that gap and ultimately Ed Cohen, one of the Nationals owners was in town yesterday, he was working hard on it, and at the end we ultimately were able to get a deal that everybody can be proud of and be happy with."
""They’ve given me everything," the Washington Times' Amanda Comak (@AComak) quoted Zimmerman saying today, "'It felt right to give them the rest of my career to produce and ultimately win a World Series.'" The face of the Nationals franchise now has eight years, starting in 2012 with the best roster the Nationals have had since returning to D.C., to go out and try to bring the nation's capital its first World Series championship since 1924.
• "Said one competing executive of the Nats' two nine-figure deals now in the books: 'Seems like they have two $100 million contracts but no $100 million payers.''' - "Early word: Nats paid too much for Zimmerman" - Jon Heyman, CBSSports.com
• "That’s a big paycheck, but Zimmerman is one of the game’s most underrated players, and the Nationals correctly identified his skillset as one worth keeping around." - "Comps For Ryan Zimmerman’s Extension" - Dave Cameron, FanGraphs Baseball