Ever since he became the Washington Nationals’ very first draft pick, Ryan Zimmerman wanted to stay with the club for the long haul.
Now he’ll get that wish.
The Nationals took what they hope is another step toward consistent contention by locking up their third baseman ― and the guy many still call the face of the franchise ― through 2019, adding six years to Zimmerman’s existing contract in a deal announced Sunday.
The deal includes a full no-trade clause.
The extra six seasons are worth $100 million, a person familiar with the negotiations told the Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no financial terms were revealed publicly.
“It’s nice that it’s done,” Zimmerman said at a news conference at the club’s spring training stadium in Viera, Florida. “It’s where I want to be. It’s where I’ve always wanted to be.”
He already was signed for 2012 and 2013, with $26 million remaining on the five-year, $45 million contract he got at the start of the 2009 season. He’s now guaranteed $126 million over the next eight seasons, and there is a club option for 2020.
“I love pressure. I don’t think people get these kinds of contracts that don’t want to be in pressure situations. Ever since I’ve been here, I’ve wanted to be the guy that’s up last in the ninth inning,” Zimmerman said. “I’ve wanted to be the guy that everyone looks to. I’ve wanted to be the so-called leader. I relish being that guy. I love it. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
He grew up not far from the nation’s capital and his parents still live there.
The two sides talked late into the night Saturday, making enough progress for the 27-year-old Zimmerman to extend a self-imposed deadline that coincided with that day’s start of official full-squad workouts. He wanted to get a deal completed now or postpone talks until after the season so his contract situation wouldn’t be a distraction in the clubhouse for the Nationals, who are hoping to finally be competitive in the NL East. (AP)