With a Jan. 17 deadline to avoid arbitration, the Washington Nationals and star pitcher Jordan Zimmermann were able to agree upon a two-year contract extension worth a total of $24 million, according to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick.

Per Joel Sherman of The New York Post, Zimmermann’s 2015 salary will be significantly higher than what he makes in 2014.

Not only did re-signing Zimmermann prior to the arbitration deadline allow the Nats to secure him on their own terms, but it also ensured he won’t be arbitration eligible moving forward since he will become a free agent following the 2015 campaign.

Despite the fact that Zimmermann and the Nationals were unable to work out a long-term extension, he told Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post that he is still interested in negotiating something more substantial moving forward.

If a year down the road or after this season if there’s a long-term deal that works out for both sides, we’d be happy and willing to do it. This is just a small little deal that takes us away from the arbitration. Now I can focus on baseball and not have to worry about the other stuff.

The 27-year-old Zimmermann is coming off the best season of his Major League Baseball career after going 19-9 with a 3.25 ERA, a career-best 1.09 WHIP and a career-high 161 strikeouts. Zimmermann was named to his first All-Star team in 2013, and he also finished seventh in the NL Cy Young Award voting.

Zimmermann will be a key part of what might be the MLB‘s best starting rotation in 2014. Along with Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and the newly acquired Doug Fister, Zimmermann gives Washington a stable of arms that will be extremely difficult to beat.

The Nationals entered the 2013 season with high expectations, but they fell way short by finishing 86-76 and missing the playoffs. Despite its struggles, Washington is once again expected to contend in 2014.

According to Bovada, the Nats are listed as the third-likeliest World Series winner behind the Los Angeles Dodgers and Detroit Tigers at 10-1.

If Zimmermann and his fellow starters perform as well as expected, then Washington could quite possibly enjoy a huge bounce-back season.

Although the Nationals front office simply kicked the can down the road by re-signing Zimmermann to a short-term deal, it at least allows the focus to shift toward making the playoffs and potentially winning the World Series in 2014.


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