This weekend, the Nats locked up their offseason trade acquisition, Gio Gonzalez, to a long term deal. They essential paid ahead for his arbitration years, plus one extra, and added on options for 2017 and 2018. But he’s locked in for sure through the end of 2016. This is a popular move these days, giving the team a good player at a good price, while the player guarantees himself a big chunk of change.
As for the actual value, according to fangraphs, his WAR put him as a $12.8M player in 2010, and as a $15.9M guy in 2011. Before you hit the option years, he got a 5 year deal for $42M. That average $8.4M a year. In other words, even if you think he won’t be quite as good outside of Oakland (and he might very well be, thanks to the move to the NL), the Nats are still getting a bargain.
But that isn’t the big part of the story. Rather, its the solidifying of this team’s rotation. Stephen Strasburg, like Gonzalez, is also locked up through 2016, and Jordan Zimmermann is locked up through the end of 2015, 4 more seasons.
What this means is when you watch the first three games at the beginning of this season, and Gio, Zimmermann and Strasburg all start (assuming they take the hill in the first 3 games) you will be watching their top 3 pitchers for the next 4+ seasons. That is something that the Nats can’t ever say they’ve had anything close to. 2 years ago today they were approaching the season having only seen, among these three guys, JZimm throw 99 innings, and his ERA+ was an unimpressive 92. Yet, just two years later they’ve been through 2 Tommy John surgeries, a big trade, and suddenly they have one of the best top 3s in the league, locked up for 4 full seasons. It is a major accomplishment