Washington Nationals' Top Offseason Priority Is Extending Jordan Zimmermann

By James Williams
Brad Mills – USA Today Sports

The Washington Nationals are making their top offseason priority to sign pitcher Jordan Zimmermann to a brand new extension. Washington has said all along that their goal is to keep the players they develop, and then to add key free agents to help keep the club a long-term contender.

So Zimmermann (18-8, 3,33 ERA), who takes the mound tonight at home to face the Miami Marlins, still has an outside shot at being a 20-game winner this year. Regardless if he reaches that 20 win mark or not, he is the next man up on the Nationals’ contract extension list.

Over this past offseason, GM Mike Rizzo had conversations with Mark Pieper of SFX Baseball, the group that represents the talented right-hander. Both sides agreed this year to a $5.35 million deal with the extension to be figured out during this offseason. So now we are about to see what kind of cash Zimmermann is likely to get. If you look at his numbers, then you can bet that he is due a very good payday.

Since the start of 2012, only one starting pitcher – Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers – has a better ERA than Zimmermann’s 2.61. So clearly, he is among the top pitchers in baseball, and that means a contract in excess of $100 million is in order.

While the Nationals control Zimmermann until after the 2015 season. The league-wide trend is for teams to sign young stars to contract extensions long before free agency looms, and that is why the Nationals want this deal done. Clearly, the team wants to keep Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez all under team control for the next seven to eight years as the key members of their starting rotation.

So since the Nationals are not in need of any big-ticket free agents, they will focus on keeping that home-grown talent in Washington for years to come.

Rant Sports columnist James Williams is a seven time Emmy Award winning producer, director and writer.Follow him on Twitter @Wordmandc and join him on Google +

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