The Kids Call Him Zim!!! The Nationals Call Him Tulowitzki...How Does Ryan Zimmerman See Himself?

How much is Ryan Zimmerman worth? Twenty-three years old. A .282 AVG in three total, but essentially two full seasons in the Majors with the Washington Nationals. 100 doubles, 8 triples, 44 HR's and 207 RBI's. Is Zimmerman worth Troy Tulowitzki money? Or David Wright money? Are Zimmerman's .266 AVG last season and the surgery on his wrist in the offseason reasons for concern?

These are the questions that Ryan Zimmerman's representation and the Nationals' Brass have been discussing through the papers all weekend, with everyone weighing in, quoting the participants, interpreting and speculating on what was said and wondering what Ryan Zimmerman is worth and what he'll actually end up getting?

MLB.com's Bill Ladson started the weekend early with a report on Thursday quoting Zimmerman's agent, whose name has been in the paper so much I now know it, Andy Van Sledegen...What? Oh it's actually, Brodie Van Wagenen...who is referenced in the title of Mr. Ladson's article, "Agent: Nats likely to renew Zimmerman", in which the desire for a multi-year deal for the Nationals' franchise player? is made clear by Mr. Van Wagenen, as Mr. Ladson writes:

According to Zimmerman's agent, Brodie Van Wagenen, he expects his client's contract to be automatically renewed...'Most likely, [Zimmerman] will be renewed and it's [the team's] right,' Van Wagenen said."

I think the phrase "...it's [the team's] right" gets the point across well enough, it's their right to do so, but the player Mr. Ladson describes in the article as:

"... the Nationals' best player the past two years because of his run production and defensive wizardry at third base."

...wouldn't turn down a multi-year deal if one was offered by the Nationals. Ryan Zimmerman speaks for himself, in Bill Ladson's next report on the contract negotiations entitled, "Notes: Zimmerman not upset",...about his contract being simply "renewed" as is Washington's right since, according as Mr. Ladson writes:

"...Zimmerman has less than three years of service time, and the Nationals can automatically renew his contract for 2008 before the March 11 deadline.

...and Mr. Ladson quotes Ryan Zimmerman directly in the article as the Nationals' third-year third baseman states:

"'I really don't have any feelings. Like I told you guys before, it's a good relationship that I have here...I'm just happy to be here and I look forward to playing here for a long time.

'It's not like I've been ignored. We have been talking. It has to work out for both ends that make sense. It's so early in my career. There is plenty of time.'"

Which would mean that after Zimmerman plays third base in DC for approximately, "$420,000..." in 2008, which is, according Washington Post baseball writer Dave Sheinin, in his article, "Nats Play Pitch, Catch With Zimmerman", at washingtonpost.com, "...a tremendous amount of money for a 23-year-old in any other industry,"...Zimmerman will be eligible for arbitration, which for Zimmerman means the potential of a Ryan Howard-like raise if he can win his arbitration case, or simply a paltry $4-6 million dollar a year deal if he loses...(ed note- "That's not to say Zimmerman will get $10 million, just that he might get as dramatic in increase in pay...")

Mr. Sheinin then quotes Nationals' GM Jim Bowden:

"'At this point, we're not close,' Bowden said Saturday, in a rare example of a Nationals official discussing contract negotiations. 'But there's always going to be time, and the other thing we all know is we have control of the player for four years, no matter what. So we have a four-year security blanket with him.'"

Mr. Van Wagenen's response comes via a telephone conversation Zimmerman's agent has with Mr. Sheinin:

"At this time, it's not in [Zimmerman's] best interests to consider a contract in the range that they're talking about. I'm not calling either side right or wrong. There are just a different viewpoints."

An article by Washington Times' baseball writers Thom Loverro and Mark Zuckerman entitled, "No movement in Zimmerman talks", makes the disparity in thinking more clear, as the writers paraphrase GM Jim Bowden's opinion, "...that the team is not going to sign Zimmerman to a long-term contract that would set a new standard." But...

...Mr. Bowden is quoted in Mr.'s Loverro and Zuckerman's article saying:

"We've made it very clear to [Zimmerman and Van Wagenen] that if Ryan is willing to sign a contract that is similar to what all the other good young players are signing for -- and there's been a whole bunch of signings, as you all have seen in the last year -- if he's willing to do a market signing, we are prepared to do that with him...We're not going set all new markets with him. We're not going to change the pay scale of Major League Baseball for one player."

According to the examiner.com's article by AP writer Howard Fendrich entitled, "Nats GM on Zimmerman: 'We're not going to change the pay scale'":

"Bowden went on to reference deals signed by Indians center fielder Grady Sizemore ($23.45 million for six years in March 2006), Braves catcher Brian McCann ($26.8 million for six years in March 2007), Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki ($31 million for six years in January), and Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano ($30 million for four years this month).

So what do you think Zimmerman is asking for? The Washington Post's baseball writer Barry Svrluga added his opinion to the chatter in his "Nationals Journal" blog entry appropriately entitled, "A Few More Zimmerman Thoughts" in which Mr. Svrluga offers a possible answer to this paragraph's opening sentence:

"...I'm guessing the Zimmerman camp is looking for a contract more in line with David Wright's deal with the Mets (six years, $55 million, signed in Aug. 2006). And if so, you can see why there is such pessimism over getting a deal done..."

...Because, to paraphrase Mr. Svrluga, Nationals' GM Jim Bowden has made it abundantly clear what the Nationals were willing to offer Zimmeran in the quotes Mr. Bowden has provided to the press all weekend, and Mr. Svrluga writes, the difference in opinion amounts to, "...a gap of, oh, $30 million bucks or so."

The Zimmerman v Nationals arbitration case next year should be very, very interesting...

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