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 call the face of the franchise — through 2019, adding six years to Zimmerman’s 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 source spoke on condition of anonymity because no financial terms have been revealed publicly.
“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.”
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.”
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 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.
Zimmerman was the team’s first draft pick after the Expos became the Nationals before the 2005 season — he was taken No. 4 overall that year after playing college baseball at Virginia — and he quickly emerged as Washington’s best player.
Last season, Zimmerman was limited by injuries to 395 at-bats over 101 games. He hit .289 with 12 homers, 21 doubles and 49 RBI.
For his career, Zimmerman has a .288 batting average, 128 homers, 214 doubles, 498 RBI, a .355 on-base percentage and .479 slugging percentage, and he’s considered one of the top defensive third basemen in the majors.
Twins’ Zumaya injured
In desperate need of a bullpen upgrade, the Twins took a chance on right-hander Joel Zumaya, a pitcher blessed with incredible power but cursed with fragility.
They began to look forward to games where Zumaya would enter in the eighth inning, throw some fastballs that approach 100 miles per hour, strike out batters and then hand the ball to closer Matt Capps.
Those moments will never materialize, as Zumaya on Sunday was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament that will force him to miss the entire 2012 season. To pitch again, Zumaya will need Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery. But Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said on Sunday that Zumaya is “distraught” and is deciding whether he wants to go through another lengthy rehabilitation or end his career.
The 27-year-old Zumaya, was injured Saturday when he stopped batting practice after 13 pitches and walked off the field. An MRI confirmed the tear.