Ryan Zimmerman made his debut for the Washington Nationals September 1, 2005. Since then he has made an All-Star Game appearance (2009), won a Gold Glove Award (2009), and taken home two Silver Slugger Awards (2009 & 2010). In 2006 Zimmerman finished second in the voting for National League Rookie of the Year after hitting .287 with 84 runs scored, 20 home runs, and 110 runs batted in. In 2009 he signed a $45 million contract to keep him in Washington through the 2013 season. This morning Zimmerman and the Nationals agreed to an extension that will keep him in the nation’s capital considerably longer.
The agreement contains a full no-trade clause and adds six years and $100 million to Zimmerman’s current contract, which runs through 2013, plus a team option year worth $24 million. In total, counting the two years on his current deal, Zimmerman will make $126 million over the next eight years or $150 million over the next nine years.
Only eight players in baseball are guaranteed to make more than Zimmerman’s $126 million guaranteed from 2012 on. His contract also makes him the second-highest paid third baseman in major league history, behind Alex Rodriguez.
The Nationals, unfortunately, play in a tough division that includes the Phillies, Braves, and Marlins but they have a decent core of young players.
Zimmerman (27) is a top-10 third baseman, even with Hanley Ramirez shifting to third this season to make room for Jose Reyes and Miguel Cabrera doing the same as a result of the Prince Fielder signing. Drew Storen gives Washington a reliable closer, at only 24 years-old. We know what Stephen Strasburg (23) is capable of when healthy. Coming off Tommy John surgery in 2010 Jordan Zimmerman (25) had his innings limited last year but should have the reins taken off this year and could build on the career-best 3.18 ERA he posted in 2011. Gio Gonzalez (26) was a quality addition from Oakland. Second baseman Danny Espinosa (24) was tied with Freddie Freeman of the Braves for most homers by a rookie last season with 21. 19 year-old Bryce Harper has loads of potential and if he doesn’t make the Nationals out of spring training he very could be in D.C. by the All-Star break.
Washington may need a few breaks to duplicate their 3rd place finish in the NL East of a year ago but the pieces are there that could make them a factor a year or two down the road, if not sooner.