Nationals extend Ryan Zimmerman

Updated: February 27, 2012, 12:05 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman and the Washington Nationals agreed to a six-year, $100 million extension Sunday, baseball sources told ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney. Zimmerman also received a full no-trade clause from the Nationals.

The Nationals announced Zimmerman's extension Sunday afternoon but didn't disclose financial terms.

The average annual value of Zimmerman's contract is $16.7 million, the most for any third baseman behind the New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez ($27.5 million).

"It's nice that it's done," Zimmerman said at a news conference at the club's spring training stadium in Viera, Fla. "It's where I want to be. It's where I've always wanted to be."

Zimmerman's current contract was set to expire after the 2013 season. The extension includes a seventh-year option that could keep Zimmerman in a Nationals uniform through the 2020 season. Zimmerman, who is due to earn $26 million over the next two seasons of his current contract, could potentially earn $150 million if the 2020 option is picked up, the sources said.

Zimmerman is one of six major leaguers signed through at least 2019, joining Albert Pujols of the Angels, Prince Fielder of the Tigers, Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies, Ryan Braun of the Brewers and Matt Kemp of the Dodgers.

"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."

Zimmerman's contract was negotiated by his agent, Brodie Van Wagenen of CAA Sports.

The two sides talked late into Saturday night, making enough progress for Zimmerman to extend a Saturday deadline that coincided with the start of full-squad workouts. The 27-year-old wanted to get a deal done or shelve the talks so his contract situation wouldn't be a distraction to the team, which has high hopes in the NL East this season.

The main sticking point in the negotiations appeared to be the slugger's desire for a no-trade clause, or at least some assurance that he wouldn't be dealt by the only team he's played for in the big leagues.

The Nationals wanted to lock Zimmerman up so he can play alongside No. 1 draft picks Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper.

"Ryan Zimmerman is an exceptional talent and individual. 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," Nationals owner Theodore Lerner said in a statement Sunday.

Zimmerman was the team's first draft pick after the Montreal Expos moved to Washington in 2005 and quickly became the face of the franchise. He's been an NL All-Star, while also capturing Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards.

Last season, Zimmerman was limited by injuries to 395 at-bats. He hit .289 with 12 homers, 21 doubles and 49 RBIs.

For his career, Zimmerman has a .288 batting average, 128 homers, 214 doubles, 498 RBIs, a .355 on-base percentage and .479 slugging percentage, and he's considered one of the top defensive third basemen in the majors.

He's also emerged as one of the leaders of the team in the clubhouse.

"In my opinion, it's just another indication the organization is moving in the right direction," shortstop Ian Desmond said. "To lock up a guy and show loyalty to your franchise player ... and to see 'Zim' be happy at home, and not to have to worry about that any more, it's going to be nice. I'm happy for him. We definitely need him."

More than a dozen Nationals teammates showed up for Sunday's news conference.

"It's great for them to come, obviously, to show their support. That's one of the reasons why I want to stay here," Zimmerman said. "I want to be with these guys for a long time."

Information from ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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