It's actually more confusing than that. I did, however, talk to someone today who has an intimate understanding of Zimmerman's contract and managed to get some details that should help clear up the confusion.
Let's start with Zimmerman's annual salary figures, including his current deal that has two remaining years and the new extension that will kick in starting in 2014...
2012: $12 million
2013: $14 million
2014: $14 million
2015: $14 million
2016: $14 million
2017: $14 million
2018: $14 million
2019: $18 million
2020: $18 million club option or $2 million buyout
So, if you add that all up, Zimmerman will make either $132 million over the next nine years if the Nationals pick up his 2020 option, or $116 million if the club elects to pay the buyout instead.
Now, what about that personal services contract included in the deal? The Nationals will pay Zimmerman $10 million over five years after he's retired to continue working for the organization. So that money will be deferred for quite some time. It is, however, guaranteed money, meaning he's guaranteed to make at least $126 million over the life of the deal (if the Nats buy out his 2020 option) or as much as $142 million (if they pick up the option).
But wait, isn't the maximum value of the deal $150 million? Yes, it is. So where's the missing $8 million?
That's the escalator payment the Nationals would be responsible for if they somehow dealt Zimmerman before his no-trade clause takes effect in 2014. The chances of that happening, as GM Mike Rizzo made clear yesterday, are zilch. But, in theory, Zimmerman could wind up earning as much as $150 million total from the Nationals between today and five years after he retires.
As you can see, the numbers are a bit confusing, and they can appear overblown at times. The reality is that Zimmerman will make only $90 million over the actual six-year extension. And his annual salary won't exceed $14 million until 2019.
That's still a boatload of money. But for an All-Star caliber player, it's far from outrageous. And it's not the kind of money that should prevent the Nationals from being able to sign (or re-sign) several more key players over the rest of this decade.