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Option vests for Nationals' Gio Gonzalez, securing $12M payday

WASHINGTON -- Gio Gonzalez will wear a Nationals uniform next season.

On Tuesday night, Gonzalez struck out Braves center fielder Ender Inciarte to reach 180 innings on the season. Because of that, his $12 million option for the 2018 season has officially vested and, barring a trade, he will remain in the nation's capital for another year.

A former first-round pick, Gonzalez, 31, came to Washington as part of a six-player trade in December 2011. The following month, he inked a five-year, $42 million contract extension that included club options for the 2017 and 2018 seasons. Following a 2016 campaign in which he started 30-plus games for the sixth time in seven seasons but posted a career-high 4.57 ERA, the Nationals picked up his 2017 option at a cost of $12 million.

Given how effective Gonzalez has been this season, it was a near-certainty that Washington was going to exercise its option for 2018.

Gonzalez (14-7) took the loss Tuesday, allowing five earned runs on seven hits in five innings while striking out eight as Atlanta posted an 8-0 win. He entered the game with a 2.50 ERA that was the third-lowest in the National League. He also ranked fifth in WHIP (1.14) and sixth in innings (179⅔) entering the night.

By hitting the 180-inning mark, Gonzalez formally removed any doubt about his contact status, automatically ensuring that he'll spend a seventh season in D.C.

Along with ace Max Scherzer and former top overall pick Stephen Strasburg, Gonzalez is part of a Washington rotation that was leading the majors in ERA (3.45) when play began Tuesday. The series opener against the Braves was the Nationals' first game since Sunday, when they clinched their fourth playoff berth in six years.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.