Zimmerman, Nationals agree to new contract

Published 4:21 pm Tuesday, April 21, 2009

AP Sports Writer
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Ryan Zimmerman finally has a multiyear deal, and the Washington Nationals finally have their “face of the franchise” signed for the long haul.
The Nationals scheduled a news conference at their stadium Monday to announce the third baseman’s new contract.
The deal reportedly is worth $45 million over five years. It runs through 2013 and replaces the one-year, $3,325,000 contract Zimmerman agreed to in February, avoiding arbitration.
After a couple of years of on-and-off negotiations between Zimmerman and the Nationals, the agreement is a bit of good news for a struggling club. Washington had a majors-worst 1-10 record heading into Monday night’s game against Atlanta after leading baseball with 102 losses last season.
Zimmerman was a first-round draft pick out of the University of Virginia in 2005 and made his major league debut that season.
In 2006, he was the runner-up in NL Rookie of the Year voting after batting .287 with 20 homers and 110 RBIs. Injuries limited Zimmerman to 106 games last season, when he hit .283 with 14 homers and 51 RBIs.
He’s batting .275 with two homers and 10 RBIs this season. Zimmerman also has made three errors.
After Jim Bowden resigned as Washington’s general manager during spring training, team president Stan Kasten took over the talks with Zimmerman’s agent about a new contract.
The new deal covers the rest of Zimmerman’s arbitration eligibility and also the start of when he could test free agency. Negotiations continued through the spring, and although Zimmerman said he didn’t want talks to take place once the real games began, the finishing touches came about two weeks into the regular season.
Both the Nationals and the player have long said the goal was a long-term deal. As the first draft pick made by the franchise after it moved from Montreal to Washington, and the cornerstone of rebuilding efforts, Zimmerman quickly became the focal point for the Nationals.
He made quite clear he wanted to play for the team for years, in part because he grew up in Virginia, where his parents still live.