The Washington Times - January 15, 2012, 02:06PM

The Washington Nationals announced a contract extension with left-handed pitcher Gio Gonzalez Sunday afternoon that will keep their newest starting pitcher with the team through the 2016 season with team options for the 2017 and 2018 campaigns.

The extension not only bought out all four of Gonzalez’s potential arbitration years as a Super 2 player this offseason but also extended him for the 2016 season. Terms of the extension were not disclosed in the team’s release but the Associated Press reported that the five-year pact was worth $42 million. The two options could potentially make the deal worth roughly $65 million, a source confirmed.

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Gonzalez, the left-hander the Nationals acquired in a blockbuster trade with the Oakland Athletics on Dec. 23 that sent four of the Nationals best prospects to Oakland, was an All-Star for the A’s in 2011 during a season in which he was 16-12 with a 3.12 ERA in 32 starts. He struck out 197 batters in 202 innings of work and had the third-best strikeouts per nine innings mark among left-handers in the major leagues behind just Cliff Lee and C.C. Sabathia. It was also the fourth-best mark in the American League.

The extension also means the Nationals will officially have Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Gonzalez atop their rotation and under team control through the 2015 season. Zimmermann would then become the first of the three to hit free agency unless a contract extension is worked out for him as well.

The Nationals still have six other players to navigate the waters of salary arbitration with, including Zimmermann who is also a Super 2 this year. They also have yet to come to terms with Jesus Flores, John Lannan, Michael Morse, Tom Gorzelanny and Tyler Clippard. 

Continue to check www.washingtontimes.com/sports throughout the day for more updates on this story.