Nationals sign Gonzalez to extension through 2016 (updated)

One down, six to go.

The Nationals on Sunday signed left-hander Gio Gonzalez on a long-term contract extension. The five-year, $42 million deal includes team options for 2017 and 2018.

It’s the largest guaranteed deal ever for a pitcher eligible for arbitration for the first time and comes three weeks after Gonzalez joined Washington in a six-player swap from the A’s. If the Nationals exercise both their options, the value of the pact could be pushed to $65 million.

With the deal, the Nationals have bought out all of Gonzalez’s arbitration-eligible seasons and his first season of free agency. They also hold control of the southpaw for the following two potential free agent years.

Gonzalez, acquired along with a minor league pitcher for four top farm prospects, was already under team control through 2015 and this would have been his first arbitration-eligible season. He was a Super Two, meaning he got one extra year of arbitration based on service time.

The lefty, who was 16-12 with a 3.12 ERA in 32 starts for the A’s last season, made $420,000 in 2011.

Gonzalez’s signing leaves six unsigned arbitration-eligible players: left-handers John Lannan and Tom Gorzelanny, catcher Jesus Flores, first baseman/outfielder Michael Morse, and right-handers Jordan Zimmermann and Tyler Clippard. They will exchange salary figures with the Nationals by Tuesday or work on new deals that would avoid arbitration.

Update: Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo just issued the following statement through the team’s public relations department: “Gio’s ample talents are well-known and chronicled. Today’s extension was about comfort for both parties. From our end, the two option years and team control were imperative to the extended commitment. Now both Gio and our fans can shift their focus and excitement to his debut in D.C. knowing that their relationship won’t be ending in the short term.”

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