ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 30: Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman #11 of the Washington Nationals makes a play on a ground ball during the game against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on August 30, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
27-year-old Washington Nationals' '05 1st Round pick Ryan Zimmerman is in the next-to-last year of the 5-year/$45M dollar extension the third baseman signed in April of 2009. Zimmerman's set to make $12M in 2012 and $14M in 2013, but the idea of giving the so-called Face of the Nats franchise a long-term deal was being discussed as far back as last Spring when the Virginia Beach, VA-raised, UVA-educated infielder talked to Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore about signing on to remain a part of what he's helped build in the nation's capital. According to "one individual familiar with the discussion" quoted in the article entitled, "Ryan Zimmerman wants to keep calling Washington home, but the Nationals will have to make it happen", the two sides were preparing then to, "... initiate discussions regarding his next contract this season."
The Gold Glove and Silver Slugger-winning National made it clear then that he would prefer to remain in Washington, close to home, playing for the only franchise he's known as a major leaguer. Among the reasons for wanting to stay in Washington that Zimmerman offered the WaPost writer was the fact that he believed the Nats were finally close to doing something they hadn't done so far in his career, compete. "'I don’t think we’re as far away as everyone thinks,'" Zimmerman said, and he was quoted stating that he hoped they could find a mutually beneficial deal. "'There’s kind of that happy medium,' Zimmerman said, 'I’m going to have to give some, and they’re going to have to give some.'"
FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi wrote in the, "Around the Horn" section of a November 16, 2011 article entitled, "Dodgers in no rush to ink Kershaw", that they'd spoken to D.C. GM Mike Rizzo, who told them then that, "'... the team already has initiated talks about a contract extension.'" "'We’ve already begun preliminary discussions with his people," the Nats' general manager told the FOXSports.com reporters, "'He’s an important piece for us, a guy that we would like to have here long-term.'"
In an article last week entitled, "Nats, Zimmerman in talks for extension", MLB.com's Bill Ladson reported that "two baseball sources" told him Zimmerman's reps and the Nats, ".... were discussing an extension for Zimmerman." The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) wrote on Twitter at the time, however, that there was, "Nothing new between Nats, Ryan Zimmerman. [Bill Ladson] is right about them talking. But they've been talking for a while. No closer to deal." FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal wrote on Monday that there was another development in the discussions.
In an article entitled, "Sources: Nationals know Zimmerman's price", the bow-tied FOXSports.com reporter said a source told him, "Zimmerman has informed the team of the exact terms he would accept long-term." Two other sources Mr. Rosenthal spoke to said that though negotations were ongoing or "fluid" in the writer's words, "... an agreement between Zimmerman and the Nationals is within reach." The speculation in the article is that a six-year deal that reworks the final two years remaining on his previous extension could be possible.
In seven season and 845 games, the right-handed hitting and throwing third baseman has a combined .288/.355/.479 line with a 162-game average of 41 doubles and 25 HR's, though he's coming off a season in which he missed significant time with a torn abdominal muscle that eventually required surgery. ZImmerman finished the year with a .289/.355/.443 slash, 21 doubles and 12 HR's in 101 games and 440 plate appearances. The Nationals continue to be mentioned as possible suitors for 27-year-old free agent first baseman Prince Fielder. Signing Fielder and inking Zimmerman to extension as well would be a public relations bonanza for the Nationals. Will one or both deals get done before the week is through? How about before Spring Training starts?