Lester chose to go with 6/155 to the Cubs. There was some talk out there (I'm going to guess floated by the Boras camp) that the Giants could have gone 7/168. This means that the going rate for Jordan Zimmermann is roughly 25 mill a year for 6 years, or 6/150. That's where the discussions will (or more accurately should) end up around.
What do I think ZNN's camp should shoot for? Well personally I think ZNN > Scherzer > Lester (younger, fewer IP over past few years, no declining FB speed, more of a GB pitcher) so if I were ZNN I'd set the bar higher. 7/175. That's 25 a year for 7 years. If I'm letting the Nats buy out this arbitration year, that is a 6/150 contract for the FA years, right in line with Lester and ZNN is a year and a half younger. In ZNN's camp I would argue that the market sees this potentially as doing the Nats a favor. Another year like last and 7/200 isn't out of the question after next year. The 7th year right now from the Nats is key. Lester's deal will end with his age 36 season. Scherzer, if he gets 7 years, will end at the same time. The comparable contract by end age right now for ZNN would be an EIGHT year deal. Seven is arguably more than fair.
What do the Nats think? If the truth is that they did offer him a 4 or 5 year deal (buying out arb years) last year then they have an enormous hurdle to get over. As I've noted before, the Nats don't do long pitcher contracts for ANY pitcher. They don't do old pitcher contracts for any pitcher. If they are going to continue with that line of thinking I think the best bet then is to try to drastically overpay for a short contract. 4/120? 3/100? Try to make it short enough that it's compelling to ZNN to think about it because he might be able to get another big contract after those years. Still that's crazy money you're talking about in the short term. However, what else can the Nats do? If they are trying to get away with say... a 6/120 or 5/125 deal right now, I don't see why ZNN's camp even bothers to respond to that.
There you go. If the Nats could get ZNN 6/150,
including re-negotiating that arbitration deal they should do it now,
then build a time machine so they can go back and do it again whenever they
want. (really is a 5/125 FA year deal at that point for a guy a year
younger than the two mentioned above). I don't see it happening though. I see ZNN's camp focused on the 7th year (especially if Scherzer gets 7) and I see the Nats probably not trying to go past 5. Money could also be the sticking point but I see contract length as the real decider.