Zimmermann, Desmond sign two-year deals
Nats also avoid arbitration with Storen, Blevins, Ramos with one-year contracts
WASHINGTON -- The Nationals were busy on Friday afternoon as pitchers Jordan Zimmermann, Drew Storen and Jerry Blevins, shortstop Ian Desmond and catcher Wilson Ramos avoided arbitration.
Zimmermann signed a two-year, $24 million deal. He will make $7.5 million in 2014 and $16.5 million in '15, according to a baseball source.
There were media reports that Zimmermann could be traded if he didn't sign an extension soon, but Zimmermann said he knew he would not be dealt.
"I knew all along that wasn't the case. ... I knew I was going to be here this year and most likely be back next year," Zimmermann said. "I'm happy to get this out of the way and not worry about the arbitration process this year or next year.
"I would like to thank [assistant general manager] Bryan Minniti, [general manager] Mike Rizzo and the Lerner family for working hard with my agent to get this deal done. Now I can focus on baseball and try to get to the World Series in D.C."
Zimmermann was the ace of the pitching staff in 2013, winning a team-leading 19 games, reaching 200 innings and being invited to his first All-Star Game.
Zimmermann's best game came on April 26, when he pitched a one-hit shutout against the Reds. Zimmermann needed just 91 pitches to complete the game. He struck out four batters, walked just one and induced 12 ground-ball outs. Zimmermann started the game by retiring 12 of the first 13 hitters he faced. No Reds runner reached scoring position throughout the contest.
Zimmermann also didn't let distractions get the best of him. He was always willing to talk about his best and worst games and the possibility of getting a contract extension.
"I have the mentality of living one day at a time," Zimmermann said. "Don't let what people say bother you. I kind of have that 'I don't care' mentality. If I have a bad game -- even the best of the best have bad games. You can always bounce back for the next start and show that [the bad start] was a fluke."
As for Desmond, he signed a two-year, $17.5 million deal, according to a baseball source. He had another solid season in 2013, hitting .280 with 20 home runs, 80 RBIs and 21 stolen bases. For his performance, Desmond received the Silver Slugger Award for National League shortstops. It marked the second consecutive year he won the award.
In a conversation with MLB.com last week, it seemed that Desmond was not in a rush to get a contract extension.
"I played last year [without an extension], I played the year before [without an extension]. I'm not concerned about an extension," Desmond said. "I'm not out there chasing money. I'm not playing for money. Up to this point of my career, from day one going back to the Montreal Expos, I made every single stop along the way. From the Gulf Coast League to Triple-A, I played every single level. I feel like I've earned everything up to this point. I'm going to continue to work whatever the contract situation turns out to be."
Ramos, who will make $2.095 million according to a published report, played in only 78 games because of hamstring problems. But he put up gaudy numbers, hitting 16 home runs and driving in 59 runs.
Storen is scheduled to make $3.45 million this season, according to a baseball source. He also has incentives in his contract for finishing 35 games ($50,000), 40 games ($100,000), 45 games ($150,000), 50 games ($200,000) and 60 games ($600,000).
Storen, who struggled in the 2012 NL Division Series against the Cardinals, lost his closer's job after the Nats signed free agent Rafael Soriano to a two-year deal in January 2013.
The role change appeared to affect Storen on the mound, with his struggles leading to the righty being sent to Triple-A Syracuse for a couple of weeks. After he returned, Storen had a 1.40 ERA in 21 games.
Blevins had a 3.15 ERA for the Athletics this past season, allowing a .253 batting average to lefty hitters. He has a fastball that can go from 89-92 mph. Blevins also has an above-average changeup.
With five signings on Friday, it means that right-handers Doug Fister and Tyler Clippard are the only remaining arbitration-eligible players for the Nationals.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.