According to the team’s official Twitter account, the Washington Nationals have come to terms on a five-year extension with lefty starter Gio Gonzalez. The deal is worth a guaranteed $42-million through 2016 with club options for 2017 and 2018 that could raise the value of the deal to $65-million.
Gonzalez was eligible for arbitration for the first time as a Super Two so the deal buys out all four of his arbitration years plus one free agent year. The benchmark for Gonzalez’s deal are contemporaries Jon Lester, Ricky Romero and Yovani Gallardo who all received five-year deals that bought out one year of free agency. None of them, however, qualified as a Super Two which explains the additional money Gonzalez will receive.
The extension comes just a month after the Nationals acquired Gonzalez from the Oakland Athletics along with minor-league righthander Robert Gilliam for four prospects; righthanders A.J. Cole and Brad Peacock, lefthander Tom Milone and catcher Derek Norris.
The 26-year-old Gonzalez enjoyed his second consecutive solid season for the A’s in 2011, striking out 22.8% of the batters he faced and posting a 3.73 xFIP. Command, however, has always been an issue for the lefty who has walked more batters than any other pitcher in baseball over the last two seasons.
The Nationals now have their rotation set for the next half decade with Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman and Gonzalez under team control for years to come. With uber-prospects Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon on the way, the balance of power in the NL East should begin to shift quickly.