Ryan Zimmerman: Stephen Strasburg 'on a very different level' than Bryce Harper
Before Stephen Strasburg gave his thoughts about Bryce Harper, third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, the player who represents the franchise more than any other, shared his opinion on the final showdown between Harper and the Nationals before Monday's midnight deadline.
The Nationals also negotiated down to the wire with Strasburg last season. But Zimmerman drew a distinct line between Strasburg and - without mentioning him by name - Harper.
"Stephen was on a very different level from this guy," Zimmerman said. "I mean, this guy has done well at a junior college. Obviously, he's very talented. But I think Stephen, there was a lot more to him. Obviously, it would be good for us to sign him. I think the people are very smart. They understand talent, recognize talent. I don't know what he's asking for or what the numbers are, but Stephen was a completely different story than anyone else. I hope he signs and we get him. He has a chance to be a very good player.
"Stephen, we knew as soon as we drafted him he was going to be ready to come here and pitch. Very rarely do you see 20 year-old kids come up. So he's three years away. It's always different with pitchers and position players as well."
While Zimmerman hopes the Nationals sign Harper, he also expressed sympathy for and solidarity with Nationals management.
"It's not that I would be not upset," Zimmerman said. "You have to try to sign all the good guys you draft. I think there's a point where you have to say, 'Enough is enough.' So you don't get him, you get the second pick next year? I don't know anything about the draft, but if you've got the second pick. ... We'll see. I'm not sitting here saying I hope we don't sign him. Obviously, he's good if we draft him first. They think he can help us. It would be nice to sign him."
Zimmerman said he has not followed Harper closely but was familiar with some of the negative perceptions about Harper, perceptions the Nationals and college teammates have consistently shot down. Zimmerman defended Harper in terms of the draft process and said he would reserve his own judgment.
"It's just the business," Zimmerman said. "It doesn't mean he's a bad kid. I've heard all the stuff about his this and that. I'm open to meeting him. You don't get that kind of hype if you're not legit or somewhat legit, at least. I mean, it'll be interesting to see what he's doing."
August 15, 2010; 6:38 PM ET
Categories: Bryce Harper , Ryan Zimmerman , Stephen Strasburg
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