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So Far, Still No Zim

This morning, some of Washington's biggest-name position players officially reported for camp. Adam Dunn came in, dropped off his stuff, and chatted with Austin Kearns and Nick Johnson. Lastings Milledge is here. Same with Cristian Guzman and Elijah Dukes. So far, there is one conspicuous absence -- Ryan Zimmerman.

Zimmerman has an arbitration case scheduled for Friday, and thus, is under no current contract. Manny Acta said Zimmerman was in Viera, Fla., as late as yesterday. ("He hit in the cages," Acta said.)

But today, his locker remains empty, and a source said that Zimmerman will not be in camp without a contract.

If Zimmerman chooses not to report to camp until then -- the sides can either work out a deal before Friday or, in the worst-case scenario, head to the arbitration hearing -- he will face no penalty or punishment. Based on the collective bargaining agreement, players are not required to report until February 22.

But Zimmerman will miss his physical, scheduled for tomorrow, and the team's first official workout on Thursday.

Throughout lengthy negotiations to work out a long-term deal for Zimmerman, both sides have always spoken of an amicable relationship. Zimmerman's absence from camp, though, marks a potential pivot point in the union between the 24-year-old and the club that drafted him.

By Chico Harlan  |  February 17, 2009; 2:05 PM ET
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Play Hard Ball Ryan. We'll be fortunate if you stay long-term and understand fuly if you do not. We need you more than you need us.

Can't wait to see you in April though.

Posted by: GregHerrick | February 17, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

It would be nice to put Zimmerman on the trading block. We could probably get a decent trade for him though not a top of the line player.

Posted by: Pete433 | February 17, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

I think this might actually be a good sign, if he was expecting to be at the arbitration hearing then he probalby would have shown us as usual then flown out Thursday, but since he's not I think (and this is strictly my opinion based on no facts what-so-ever) that they are very close to a long term deal and the LAST thing he wants to do is sprain and ankle or something and give them pause right before the close the deal on a 3 year $14 million dollar deal.

Posted by: estuartj | February 17, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Though I still love Ryan Zimmerman, and believe he has a long future as a .280-25-100 type player (with great defense), I don't see him as the star that I did in 2006.

No knock on him -- just a readjustment of long-term value.

At this pace, I don't see him becoming the "face" of the franchise. He's a very very good player, someone who would be the 2nd or 3rd best player on a championship team.

And that's not bad; that's great.

I'm just afraid that all of this "face of the franchise" stuff has got him thinking he's worth a whole lot more than he really is.

Posted by: rushfari | February 17, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

The Lerners would be so proud of the Post posters! No, don't pay Zim, as he may not be a big star. Trade him for some nice prospects and try again. Y'all would make great accountants in the Lerner back rooms.

I guess the downside is that you lose a great defensive third baseman who probably will have a solid year and hit for a fine average, with power. OK, not a league-leading performance, but a good solid year that establishes Zim. And when he has this year, what happens then? He wants too much money and eventually has to go to a team with an MLB budget.

However, the upside of dumping Zim is you get to save all that cash.

Posted by: EdDC | February 17, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

When the most marketable player in an organization -- by a mile -- is one of the lowest paid, and the only hardball ownership knows how to play is in negotiations, then this sort of thing happens.

Let's face it, if Ryan Zimmerman were free to go elsewhere, he'd have gone strait to the airport after last year's final game.

The two sides will get this year's salary worked out one way or another and Zimmerman will be at third base on Opening Day.

Nats fans better enjoy it. It will be his last Opening Day in a Nationals uniform. And, frankly, as sick as it makes me, I will be happy for him. He deserves more than this joke of a franchise.

Kevin Olson
Manassas, VA

Posted by: noslok | February 17, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

People, Zimmerman is our best player now and has the most upside of anyone in our org (at least until 6/1). He should be retained as long as its not stupid money.

Posted by: goexpos2 | February 17, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Zimm's last Opening Day? How do you figure?

Isn't this the first of Zimmerman's 3 arbitration rounds? As long as the Nats continue to offer him arbitration, he's in DC through the 2011 season.

Posted by: comish4lif | February 17, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

nosiok, Zimmerman is in the first year of Arbitration eligibility so he's with us at least through the '11 season. SOOOO much will happen between now and then that this little spat, if that is even what it is, will mean nothing by then.

If he feel slighted now then I'm sure an extra $500k will be more than enough to make up for it, home town discounts are few and far between IMO and he'll go where the best money and chance to suceed is, maybe that's us and maybe not - but 4 days out of spring training 3 years before he's a FA is nothing to get worked up about.

Posted by: estuartj | February 17, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

zimmerman = scott rolen.

everyone moves on eventually. deep down inside you must know the franchise is bigger than any one player.

i hope estuart is right and we give him a nice extension. but zimmerman is a cornerstone player, not the big big daddy of them all.

Posted by: longterm | February 17, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Zimm has been told, basically since he got here, "you're the face of the franchise." How must it look to him after the Lerners' unabashedly public and failed pursuit of Tex?

I want him to stay also, but kid: you should go get yours, whether it's here or somewhere else. You deserve as much.

Posted by: info_stuporhighway | February 17, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

If I was Zimmerman, here's how I think I'd feel about the Nats pursuit of Teixeira. "Hoo-Ray - someone to bat behind me and drive me in. Or bat in front of me and be driven in. Someone to help us win more ballgames. Etc."

It's not as if Teixeira is a 3B that would take his starting job.

This is the first post - anywhere - that indicated that signing Teixeira would be a bad idea.

Posted by: comish4lif | February 17, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Maybe kieth law was right about whiny nats fans. This was pathetic display of posting on the second day of spring training.

Posted by: tlynch44 | February 17, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Why is this a big deal? A couple weeks ago, Zim said he it would be too risky to practice without a contract. So his absence is merely temporary.

Posted by: AshburnVA | February 17, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

maybe someone should tell Zimmerman that he is OVERATED and to get his ass in camp now. who the hell does he think he is?

Posted by: SadieV | February 17, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

He's got quite a big head for a .282 career hitter who averages about 18 home runs per season. I guess that he started believing all of that "face of the franchise" crap. Yes, his glove is spectacular but his throws to first are more than a little erratic. His offensive production is respectable, but not at all what you would expect of an all star caliber corner infielder, at least not so far. I think that Zimm will evolve into a fine player, but not a great player. And before everyone jumps on me about how "young" he is, consider the case of Ryan Braun... he was drafted in the same year, one choice after Zimm by the Brewers and has been FAR more impressive so far. Another brilliant move by Bowden....

Posted by: brian1va1 | February 17, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Chico et al, don't make this out to be something sinister or in any way indicative of the state of Zimmerman's relationship with the team. It's merely prudent of him to not work without a contract, since if he did there is always the possibility of him getting hurt and ruining his future and/or his future earning potential. The situation with him is different this year than it has been in the past, when he had a job and his salary was totally determined by what the club wanted to pay him. I would be willing to bet that his decision to not report without a contract is 100% totally made under the direction of his agent.

You don't mention Josh Willingham, the only other player who is in the same awaiting-arbitration circumstance as Zimmerman. Is he in camp yet?

Posted by: nunof1 | February 17, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

I say, lets see what happens when Zimmerman plays a full season
a) healthy
b) with protection.

He had pretty good protection in 06 (with a healthy Nick Johnson, Vidro before he forgot how to hit and Soriano tablesetting) and put up 20hrs, 110rbis, .287/.351/.471.

Expectations are too high for him right now, but he's also not worth throwing away. I'd still say he's a top 10 player at his position.

Posted by: tboss | February 17, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Contrary to what many think, I believe Zimmerman is somewhat underrated. Look at his stats from 2005 and 2006, when the Nationals were half-decent and had some other bats. In his first full season, 2006, he hit .287 w/ 20 hrs and 100+ RBIs, not to mention he's a great defensive player.

Contrast that with the past two years, he has been injured and his numbers are down. His numbers were not down because he isn't improving, his numbers were down because there was NOBODY else threatening in the lineup. When you bat 3rd for two entire years and you are the only strong hitter, your numbers will decrease. If you were to put Zimmerman on a team like the Mets, Cardinals, or most other potent teams, Zimmerman would be a consistent .290 20-25 hrs type guy batting probably 2nd or 5th in the lineup. If the front office doesn't give him a decent contract offer, I would not blame him for walking as soon as possible.

Posted by: ncg1983 | February 17, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Zimmerman = Brooks Robinson. A huge contributor offensively and defensively and a cornerstone around which to build. He won't lead the team in HRs, or BA, but he'll be consistent each year. Sign him and keep him around for the next 20 years. Adam Dunn = Boog Powell. Now we just need a Frank Robinson and four 20-game winners.

Posted by: AsstGM | February 17, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Are you all crazy? Sign him! Sign him now! He's a more than solid 3rd baseman on the worst team in baseball. No matter what Dunn does Zim will put more people in the seats than Dunn.

Posted by: thegraneys | February 17, 2009 7:06 PM | Report abuse

This news is really no big news and has been played out in other Spring Training camps since the current collective bargaining agreement was put in place. It will be big news if Zim ends up going to arbitration as I think we are all hoping for a long-term contract. Like others have said, the Nats still control worse case the arbitration-eligibility for 2 more years beyond this year if a long-term contract isn't reached.

IMO, Zim is a Gold Glove 3rd baseman although the voters won't give him the hardware because he doesn't play 3rd for the Mets.

Offensively, Zim should have a very good 2009 with the arrival of Adam Dunn and healthy players around him. In 2006, Zim had a good lineup around him with Soriano and Nick Johnson and Zim shined offensively.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | February 17, 2009 8:13 PM | Report abuse

Zimm= Brooks Robinson??!! Ha!!!!

Once Zimmerman wins 16 gold glove awards and is voted onto the all star team 15 times we can start talking about his being the equal of Brooks Robinson. He'll also have to come up with an MVP award or two and finish his career with almost 3,000 hits. Oh yeah, he'll also have to be a first ballot hall-of-famer.

Look Zimmerman will be a decent player (and I do agree with the other poster that he's probably closer in the long run to a Scott Rolen than to a Brooks Robinson) but he is nowhere near Hall of Fame material. Not yet anyway. I'd say he has some serious catching up to do to be mentioned in the same breath as Brooks Robinson.

Posted by: brian1va1 | February 17, 2009 8:44 PM | Report abuse

Nats management is getting ugly. Wonder if the O's would consider Zimmerman once Mora gets too old though I guess that might come too soon... He's just the type though a team actually rebuilding needs, not a team like the Nats that seems to fail to build.

Posted by: nitrojunkie_20723 | February 17, 2009 9:02 PM | Report abuse

Zimmerman made a diving catch in short left field in 2006,prompting Frank Robinson to say,"I never saw Brooks make a play like that."So there's your Brooks Robinson comparison,from someone whose opinion carries some weight.Brooks Robinson was a truly great player,one who had a career avg. around .267.His play at third was unequaled.For the poster who implied the Orioles are the ones who are rebuilding,don't they have 11 straight losing seasons?The Nationals/Expos have some .500 or better seasons in that same span.

Posted by: seanmg | February 18, 2009 2:14 AM | Report abuse

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