(Thearon W. Henderson/GETTY IMAGES)

ESPN first reported those financial figures, and the person familiar with the contract called them “close but not exact.” Using the approximate numbers, Gonzalez will earn $8.4 million per season on average before the options kick in. If Gonzalez stays in Washington through 2018, his average annual salary will jump to $9.3 million.

For the Nationals, the comfort entails having one of the league’s best young lefties locked up for the foreseeable future. And Gonzales’s deal could also pave the way for the Nationals reaching a long-term commitment with another of their young, top-of-the-rotation hurlers.

Jordan Zimmermann fit the same general profile as Gonzalez before Gonzalez signed his extension. Zimmermann, having qualified for Super Two status, is entering his first of four arbitration-eligible seasons. Zimmermann’s Tommy John surgery has prevented him from logging as many innings as Gonzalez. But if the Nationals could strike a deal with Gonzalez, they have a rough template for an extension with Zimmermann.

Zimmermann is represented by SFX, the agency that has negotiated arbitration-avoiding contract extensions for high-profile pitchers Jon Lester and Justin Verlander. At the end of the 2011 season, Zimmermann said he had not seriously considered his contract situation, but that he would be open to listening if the Nationals broached the idea of a long-term deal.

Stephen Strasburg signed a major league deal upon being drafted and is represented by Scott Boras, which complicates the chances of his accepting a contract extension in myriad ways. In extending Gonzalez, the Nationals locked up the newest member of their youthful, top-of-the-rotation trio. It also showed how it’s possible they could do the same with Zimmermann, the one who has been part of the organization the longest.