The Washington Nationals vs Ryan Zimmerman: The Arbitration Argument.

Zim v DC...

I can't believe it's come to this. It's what all of DC will be talking about until Friday. If the Washington Nationals and their 24-year-old "Face of the Franchise" Ryan Zimmerman don't agree on a deal, the two sides will sit down on opposite sides of an arbitrator's table and present their cases to determine how much Zimmerman will make in '09, a process which no one who's ever been through it seems to want to relive...

Imagine your own boss sitting down across the table from you and describing all your faults with the knowledge that there are several million dollars on the line...Ryan Zimmerman will make the case for a pay raise from $456 K to $3.9 M, and the Nationals, who are offering a less generous pay raise to $2.56 M, are going to pick apart the first three years plus in the career of their #1 overall pick from 2005, who has thus far hit for a baseball-reference.com-generated .282 AVG, 45 doubles, 3 triples, 21 HR's and 94 RBI's per one-hundred-sixty-two games played...

The Washington Nationals began negotiating a long-term deal with Zimmerman more than a year ago, before they decided to renew the then-23-year-old third baseman for one-year at $456K while they worked on a contract that would allow Zimmerman, in DC GM Jim Bowden's words, as quoted in MLB.com's Bill Ladson's 3/8/08 article entitled, "Nats renew ZImmerman's contract", to, "...start and finish his career as a National," while ZImmerman, for his part, seemed to understand his situation, telling Mr. Ladson:

"'It's just part of the system. I'm not upset about anything,' Zimmerman said. 'They have control [of me] for three years, and that's how it goes. Many people before me have done it the same way.'"

(ed. note - "I always wondered whether the addition of '[of me]' In that sentence makes it sound better or worse...?")

In the weeks leading up to last year's renewal, the argument at times spilled into the papers, an unfortunate exchange on the level of the "Cordero Affair", which included DC GM Jim Bowden telling  AP writer Howard Fendrich in an article, (ed. note - "...which has disappeared from the inter-webs since I quoted it...), entitled, "Nats GM on Zimmerman: 'We're not going to change the pay scale'" that in his (and by extension, obviously, the Nationals') opinion, Zimmerman was in line for a deal similar to that which was:

"...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...)"

Washington Post writer Barry Svrluga, (the now-legendary predecessor to the Washington Post's Chico Harlan on the Nationals' beat), wrote a Nationals Journal post at the time, entitled, "A Few More Zimmerman Thoughts", where he speculated/reported (Who knows?, it's a blog...Well, he actually writes, that he's...):

"...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..."

Back in MLB.com's Bill Ladson's article entitled, "Nats renew Zimmerman's contract", Zimmerman's agent Brodie Van Wagenen was quoted as stating that one benefit of the negotiations, though they ultimately failed, was that, "...we know where each other stand. There is [no animosity]," and Mr. Ladson is sure to note that, "Zimmerman said he doesn't have any hard feelings toward the Nationals." 

Now, however, two days short of the '09 arbitration showdown, MLB.com's Bill Ladson writes that, "The relationship between third baseman Ryan Zimmerman and the Nationals is better than ever", in response to a recent Washington Post/Nationals Journal post, with Mr. Ladson noting, in the article entitled, "Zimmerman, Nationals aren't at odds," that, "The Washington Post...":

"...indicated in a blog on Tuesday that Zimmerman would not be in camp without a contract and the relationship between the two parties could be strained."

It must be Washington Post writer Chico Harlan's post entitled, "So Far, Still No Zim", Mr. Ladson's referring to, in which Mr. Harlan mentions the "amicable relationship" between the two sides, but concludes by writing, "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." 

Or maybe I'm looking at this all the wrong way...remember what Washington Nationals' Team President Stan Kasten said at the recent Nats FanFest...(in full-on "candid"-mode), as recorded, again by Washington Post writer Chico Harlan in a Nationals Journal post entitled, "NatsFest, over and out", where Mr. Harlan dropped the final notes from the event including the response by Mr. Kasten to a question about the Zimmerman negotiations, where he talked about Philadelphia's recent negotiations with the face (at least the bat) of their franchise, left-handed slugger Ryan Howard...Mr. Kasten, the floor is yours:

"You know, up the road in Philadelphia they've got a player they like a hell of a lot too in Ryan Howard, they haven't been able to work it out either. I know it's just a coincidence that they have the same agent who doesn't seem to like to do long-term contracts before free agency. But, that's just me being cynical. So, I hear ya. I don't disagree with you. Numbers have to work both ways. But nobody could love Ryan Zimmerman more than the four of us do."

?'s For The DC Faithful...

Is Ryan Zimmerman's agent the one holding up a long-term deal? 

Who would you compare Ryan Zimmerman to if you were making a decision on his value?

Make the case against Ryan Zimmerman's salary demands...?

(ed. note - "I asked My Brother Scout, Braves' Fan And Source For All Things Baseball who he would compare Zimmerman to, in terms of what sort of contract ZImmerman deserved...

Scout: David Wright...but that was a different, uh, economic climate, or time...Joe Crede maybe? But Crede's hurt all the time, and Zimmerman just got injured this year for the first time...

FB: How about Cabrera, Miguel, though he's not, uh, playing third...? 

Scout: They're not in the same league..."

FB: Right, Cabrera's in the AL now... 

Scout: I get it...How about Scott Brosius?

FB: Brosius got $2.65M from the Yankees in '98, up from $2.55 with Oakland in '97, after he hit .203 in an off year, but in '96 w/ the A's he hit .304 with 25 doubles, 22 HR's and 71 RBI's, and in '98 with NY, he hit .300 with 34 doubles, 19 HR's and 98 RBI's...uh-oh...

Scout:... Zimmerman's way better than Brosius, but that's the kind of player he is...Zimmerman had better hope the Nationals don't bring up Brosius...

(ed. note - "The voting members of the federalbaseball.com readership voiced their opinion on the Zimmerman contract situation in a recent poll, the results of said poll, are HERE.")

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