Gonzalez, Nationals make 5-year deal official 

The Washington Nationals held a news conference Wednesday at their ballpark to show off their most significant offseason acquisition and pat themselves on the back for locking him down with a big contract.

No, not Prince Fielder. Gio Gonzalez.

More than a month after joining Washington in a trade from Oakland, and 1½ weeks after agreeing to a $42 million, five-year deal, Gonzalez made it official by signing on the dotted line Wednesday.

"I love the pressure situations," Gonzalez said.

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said the left-hander is "going to be part of the furniture for a long time."

The GM also repeatedly talked about his belief that the Nationals finally are ready to play "meaningful games in September." In 2011, Washington went 80-81 and wound up in third place, its highest NL East finish since moving from Montreal before the 2005 season.

The 26-year-old Gonzalez was an All-Star last season, when he went 16-12 with a 3.12 ERA in 32 starts. He talked about joining a starting rotation that will be led by hard-throwing right-handers Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann.

"I get to study off those guys every night," Gonzalez said.

For the past several weeks, the Nationals were connected to reports about Fielder, the free-agent first baseman who averaged 40 homers and 113 RBIs over the past five years. But word emerged Tuesday that he agreed to a contract worth more than $200 million with the Detroit Tigers.

So instead, Washington was left to celebrate Gonzalez, who Rizzo called "another building block" and a "player with high character, great makeup."

Gonzalez's contract is the largest for a pitcher eligible for arbitration for the first time. It includes both a club option for 2017, and a vesting player option for 2018, which could make it worth $65.5 million over seven seasons.

"There was mutual interest in getting a long-term deal done," said Rizzo, who sent four prospects to Oakland on Dec. 23 to get Gonzalez.

Said Gonzalez: "This was, in my opinion, a fair trade. When all is said and done, Oakland was happy with the trade, and I'm assuming the Nationals are happy."

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