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Why The Timing Makes Sense For Zim

In Ryan Zimmerman's perfect world, perhaps he plays ten more seasons, and none of them result in statistics worse than the ones he produced in 2008. And perhaps Zimmerman goes through another decade of offseasons, and none of them face the pinch of such a disadvantageous economic climate.

So why, then, does Zimmerman want to sign a long-term deal right now? After a year punctured by injuries that limited him to career lows in home runs and RBI? During the ultimate global recession?

"It just gets to the point where you think, 'How much [money] do you really need? How much do you need, and do you really want to be here?' I think that's the most important thing," Zimmerman said. "The whole point of being a free agent and having a negotiating power is to play where you want to want to play. And I don't really need to go into that. I'm happy here. It's just a matter of getting the figures right where it works for me and the team. The economy -- I'm not good at that, so I'll let all those other guys worry about the economy."

Today, back at the Nationals' spring training facility, Zimmerman reiterated his desire to work out a multi-year deal before Opening Day. Just yesterday, the third baseman was out in Phoenix, having signed a one-year, $3.325-million contract just hours before his scheduled arbitration case.

But yes, as Zimmerman's agent, Brodie Van Wagenen, spoke with Washington GM Jim Bowden, there was "heavy talk" about a long-term deal, Zimmerman said.

At the end of last season, Zimmerman expressed hesitance to tie his future to a club that might develop into a perennial loser. Today, Zimmerman acknowledged that Washington's offseason progress curbed his concerns about the direction of the team that drafted him.

"We have a good young team, a good core group of young guys, and that's the key," Zimmerman said. "You have to build a core of four of five guys and fill in the pieces of the puzzle around that. I think if you look at every good team, they pay their four or five guys, whether it's pitchers or position players, whatever, and then you piece in around that. That's what we're starting to do here... I really and truly believe it's going in the right direction."

By Chico Harlan  |  February 21, 2009; 9:38 AM ET
 
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Next: Some Strasburg Nuggets

Comments

re-post:

Chico,

Your article from today is a bit confusing on Zim's incentive clauses, since it mentions both plate appearances and at-bats. Are the contractual incentives tied to at-bats, as the article stated, or instead to plate appearances??? I'd be surprised to see Bowden create a contractual disincentive for Ryan to draw some walks.

"The incentives were tied purely to plate appearances -- i.e., health. If Zimmerman reaches 500 at-bats in 2009, he'll earn $75,000. If he reaches 550 at-bats, he'll earn another $50,000. If he reaches 600 at-bats, he'll earn a final $50,000."

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | February 21, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Based on Zim's quotes here, you have to be excited. I THINK HE GETS IT!

"It just gets to the point where you think, 'How much [money] do you really need? How much do you need, and do you really want to be here?' I think that's the most important thing," Zimmerman said. "... I'm happy here..."


Now lets hope they get a 6 to 8 year deal done.

The life long legacy that Zim can build for himself as the face of the Nationals franchise and the face of the future is encouraging.

Frank Howard is a great example of a Washington player who is still loved by everyone and Zim no doubt will be the most popular Washington baseball player. Just look at all the young kids wearing #11 jerseys!

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | February 21, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Just saw this. Orlando Hudson signed for $3.3 mill with the Dodgers. Here is an All Star and Gold Glove 2nd baseman veteran who just took a huge pay cut. Unreal. I remember when Hudson was looking at $10 to $12 mill a year in Free Agency.

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3922546

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | February 21, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

It's great news that Zimm wants to do a long term deal now. Hopefully they can get it done. By this time next year hopefully the Nats will have a half dozen established young veterans including Dunn, Zimm, Milledge, Flores, Dukes, and Lannan. That might just make DC a more popular destination for Free Agents and encourage contimued team improvement.

Posted by: natbiscuit | February 21, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

This is great news. I really wonder what all of the doomsayers are going to do when the team is good for real. The few moves they have made this offseason have, on paper, greatly improved the team. Drafting and signing Strasburg and whoever they choose at #10 will even further that progress.

I'm thinking that if a deal does get done, it will be around 6 years for between $54 and $60 million. This is important for defense much more than offense, in my opinion.

Posted by: Cavalier83 | February 21, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Make it so...

OK -- enough with the geek stuff...If Zimm wants to sign a long-term deal here, there is no good argument against getting it done. Perhaps management thinks the Markakis deal is too high for the times. Or, there's concern about Zimm's health. If it's the latter, by the end of May, we should have a clear sense of that. If it's the former, I could argue that Zimm is worth far more to this franchise. He is the face of the Nationals. That cannot be ignored. His value to the team transcends his numbers. Admittedly, Markakis has better numbers -- though he plays in a hitter-friendly park. Perhaps, Zimm can't expect the Nats to offer him as much on a yearly basis, but they ought to come a lot closer. If they're serious about (a) The Plan, and (b) building a base of fan support, the Nats have to sign Zimmerman. It's that simple. hHey have to create tradition here, and that starts with Zimmerman.

Posted by: fischy | February 21, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

The Nats would be foolish to ink the guy for 6-8 years at this point. If they end up having to pay a premium later because he explodes in 2009, well then that's really not so bad. If he implodes in 2009 after they had locked him up forever, then no so great.

Posted by: dfh123 | February 21, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Cavalier83's probably close to the $ value - I think a 5 or 6-year extension with an AAV of $9-10M is a fair asking price from Van Wagenen.

Posted by: BinM | February 21, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

The teams' 40-man salary cost looks to be around $65M for 2009, with $17M going off the books at the end of the year (Belliard, Cabrera, DaMeat, NJohnson & WMP). I would guess that high draft-pick bonuses would be paid out over the 1st three years of the players' contract.

My point being, the $$$ shouldn't be a major issue it terms of locking up RZimm long-term, and getting the June 2009 draft-picks signed.

Posted by: BinM | February 21, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

... for JayBeee and Scooter: thanx for confirming the quality of Dukes' arm for me. As a matter of fact, unlike most of you who have access to game tickets or TV broadcasts, the only way (so far) for me to follow the team is through MLB's GameDay - the graphical interface which provides balls and strikes, hits, runs and outs, and not much more. Without actually seeing the game, it is difficult to evaluate what is happening. Still, it's better than nothing.

... so if he has a rifle for an arm, who could we trade? It doesn't seem right to me to trade someone - Willingham - so soon after getting him. Same with Dunn (not that he's in any danger). So why not Kearns? Is it because he's on a very good-for-us contract? What about Pena? No takers?

... these are, once again, rather simplistic questions. But I'm just trying to get an image of who and where we are.

Posted by: natscanreduxit | February 21, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

I understand that the Zimm contracy, Frowney, and Perez have been the most dominant headlines of spring training so far, but don't we have a million other things we could be hearing about? Chico, I love you pal, and I hate to be THAT guy, but Barry was tossing out half a dozen updates a day even before spring training started.
We know Washington is not a baseball town, nobody besides a few dozen of us are all that interested, but there are SOME of us who want to hear what's going on out on the ballfield.

Posted by: ajtrue78 | February 21, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

@natscan:

The team (and all of us as well) will possibly have a better grasp on tradeability after the next two weeks. Let the team get a few ST games out of the way & see who looks good.

In the OF, Willingham, WMP, Kearns & Dukes are all coming off injuries, as is NJohnson & DaMeat (even though he's not on the 40-man) at 1B. If these six can prove they're healthy & can still play on a fairly regular basis, then the team can better determine marketability to other clubs, or their usefulness with the Nationals.

Posted by: BinM | February 21, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

@ajtrue:

Just click your heels & repeat this phrase "Send Steinbog back to Viera, Send Steinbog back to Viera, Send Steinbog back to Viera". Maybe the good witch of the WaPo will grant our wish for a 2nd writer to cover the Nationals.

Posted by: BinM | February 21, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Let "Steinbag" hang around in an empty parking lot over at that place in Ashburn waiting for the varsity to arrive. Don't need him or want him getting to cozy with the South Capital JV! On the other hand, couldn't agree more with @ajtrue and CIL, the level of baseball coverage in DC even after 5 years is as dismal as it was when we had the Ori-holes jammed down our throats for 33 years. Caps could win the Stanley Cup and the Nats someday will win the WS, yet Steinbog and Co., and on the same day the WAPO will do a front page feature on a guy from New Jersey who plays Rugby.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | February 21, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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