The Washington Times - February 26, 2012, 08:15AM

VIERA, Fla. — The Washington Nationals’ promising future was solidified Sunday when their cornerstone, Ryan Zimmerman, agreed to a contract extension a source confirmed to The Washington Times.

With Zimmerman’s self-imposed deadline to agree to a new contract or table talks until the offseason extended, Zimmerman’s agent, Brodie Van Wagenen, and Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo negotiated deep into the night on Saturday. The sides were confident enough that they’d cleared the major hurdles to continue things into Sunday. 

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“We don’t have a deal done yet but we’ve made significant progress tonight,” said Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo around 11 p.m. Saturday night. “We feel good about it and optimistic that we can reach an agreement.  

“There’s some small details we have to iron out through tonight and tomorrow. Hopefully tomorrow (morning) we’ll have something more concrete to announce. We feel good and optimistic that Zim’s going to be a Washington National for a long, long time.” 

Moments before Rizzo met the media to deliver those words, Zimmerman, the first draft pick in Nationals’ history, and his agent, Brodie Van Wagenen of CAA, sent out statements that echoed the general manager’s thoughts. The deadline Zimmerman had set for Saturday would not be held to firmly. With neither side foreseeing any more “major stumbling blocks” in the negotiation, all parties felt comfortable enough to continue moving forward. 

“All along, all I’ve wanted is to be able to stay with the Nationals, which I consider my hometown team, and help the franchise become a winner while also being compensated fairly,” Zimmerman said in a statement. 

“While nothing is finalized, I am confident that we can reach an agreement that will accomplish those things,” he continued. “I’m from Virginia, I was drafted by the Nationals and I’ve seen this organization make great progress since I signed here. I want to see it through to the ultimate goal of winning a World Series.”

The terms of the contract are not yet known. A press conference is expected to be held after Sunday’s workout.