The Washington Times - April 20, 2009, 05:53PM

Ryan Zimmerman’s tax bracket has just gone up a bunch.

Having now officially signed a five-year, $45 million contract extension, Zimmerman is suddenly the highest-paid player in franchise history. Here’s how the contract breaks down year-by-year:


2009: $3.325 million (plus $500,000 signing bonus, plus performance incentives worth $175,000 a piece)

2010: $6.25 million

2011: $8.925 million

2012: $12 million

2013: $14 million

There are also various incentives spread throughout the contract that pay Zimmerman bonuses for individual honors like All-Star appearances, MVP awards and Gold Gloves. There is not any no-trade clause included.

So, how is it that this deal came down now after 2 1/2 years of negotiations? Well, after “thousands” of different permutations —Stan Kasten’s word — and various proposals that ranged from anywhere from four to 10 years in length, this deal came together just before Opening Day. In fact, the basic details were finally agreed upon with less than 30 minutes to go before first pitch at Dolphin Stadium on April 6. Yeah, Zimmerman got a message from his agent, Brodie Van Wagenen, shortly before he was due to be on the field to begin stretching for the start of the season opener.

The key compromise that appeared that get this thing done: The Nationals went up from a four-year offer to a five-year offer. Once that was agreed upon, the rest was mostly paperwork, contract language and Zimmerman undergoing a physical.

Everyone, of course, was all smiles today as they discussed the finalized contract.

“We came a long way to make this happen,” Zimmerman said, adding: “There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.”

“This was a complicated, lengthy procedure,” Stan Kasten said.

Van Wagenen was asked how at all negotiations changed once Jim Bowden resigned and Kasten took over the lead. The agent was complimentary toward Bowden, pointing out that the former GM was “outspoken and passionate about what Ryan could be” from the day he was drafted in 2005. Kasten, though, was “truly relentless” about getting the deal done, making phone calls every day for the last month.

There will be plenty more in tomorrow’s paper, but I wanted to leave you with one quote from Zimmerman that I found particularly interesting. The Nats obviously made a significant commitment to him with this contract, but he also made a significant commitment to a team that has not had a winning record since he arrived. Remember, Ryan was under no obligation to sign this contract now — he could’ve waited two more years before free agency entered the equation. So, I asked him, was there any concern about wanting to wait and see if the franchise starts winning before committing yourself for another five years?

“I have a lot of trust in the ownership group,” Zimmerman said. “I think this offseason kind of showed they’re ready to kind of go out there. I really feel that the Lerners want to put a winner on the field. They went after some people this offseason. I think next offseason, they’ll take another step and go after some more people. We’re really not that far away. I think we have four or five of the main pieces that you need. And if you look at every good team, they have four or five core guys and then they fit in the puzzle pieces around them. I really don’t think we’re that far, and it’s not going to be that hard to do it. I don’t think if I didn’t have the trust in them that I would’ve done this deal. If someone says you’re going to lose 100 games every year, there’s no way I’m going to stay there. I enjoy winning, and I think we’re going to do it.”

OK, as for tonight’s game … the tarp has been off the field for about 30 minutes now and the grounds crew is preparing the infield. It looks like there’s a window of several hours this evening to get the game in before more rain arrives. So there will be baseball in some form tonight.