The Nationals have settled with their final arbitration-eligible player, signing pitcher Jordan Zimmermann to a one year/$5.35M deal, reports Amanda Comak of the Washington Times. Zimmermann had filed for a salary of $5.8M and the Nationals had filed at $4.6M.
The 26 year old right-hander was a key player in the Nationals excellent starting rotation last season. His 2.94 ERA was the second best on the team, behind Cy Young contender Gio Gonzalez and the seventh best in the National League. Following Tommy John surgery and a subsequent innings restriction similar to the one Stephen Strasburg just faced, Zimmermann showed some real durability for the first time, making 32 starts for Washington totaling 195.2 innings pitched. The young righty is a master of control on mound; his 5.7 % walk rate is among the best in baseball and matched with near average strikeout ability, that command should make his 2012 results very repeatable.
Zimmermann was the only Nationals player to file a salary for arbitration with the team. Washington had seven arbitration eligible players this off-season but they reached agreements with everyone except Zimmermann before the salary filings deadline on January 18. According to Comak, the two sides had not been close to deal until very late in the week.
Zimmermann is major part of the Nationals long term and the team would still like to work out an extension for him. This was the righty's second arbitration-eligible season, however, and he was focused on simply reaching a deal for the 2013 season, reports Comak. As a "Super-two" player, Zimmermann will not become an unrestricted free agent until 2016.