Sources: Nats, Zimmerman closing on extension

BY Ken Rosenthal • April 17, 2009

The Nationals, trying to lock up their franchise cornerstone, are in serious negotiations with third baseman Ryan Zimmerman about a long-term contract extension, according to major-league sources.

The talks are "moving in a good direction," one source said, but several issues remain. The terms are not known, but the target for Zimmerman is believed to be the six-year, $66.1 million deal the Orioles awarded outfielder Nick Markakis, a more accomplished player.

Zimmerman, 24, signed a one-year, $3.325 million contract with the Nationals in February, avoiding salary arbitration. His extension likely would cover his remaining arbitration years and at least two years of free agency.

The two sides spoke throughout spring training, but could not reach agreement. Zimmerman had said that he did not want negotiations to extend into the season and create a distraction.

Zimmerman, the fourth overall pick in the 2005 draft, averaged 22 homers and 100 RBIs in his first two major-league seasons, but was limited to 106 games last season due to a small labral tear in his left shoulder.

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