This morning's deadline to get an extension done before Spring Training workouts began for position players passed without a deal announced, but the Washington Nationals and their first 1st Round pick Ryan Zimmerman are reportedly still talking, as they try to agree on what will (if agreed upon) be a lucrative, long-term deal that keeps the 27-year-old third baseman in the nation's capital for the next six-to-eight years.
The seven-year MLB veteran has a .288/.355/.479 line in his career after last year's injury-shortened 101-game season which saw the right-handed hitting and throwing infielder post a .289/.355/.443 line and hit 21 doubles and 12 HR's in 101 games and 404 PA's. The two sides have been discussing an extension for as long as a year now, and the Virginia Beach, Virginia-born, University of Virginia-educated face of the Nats franchise had said he wanted an extension done before Spring Training started for position players today so that the negotiations wouldn't become a distraction for the rest of his team.
"Zim put a deadline in there, because nothing's about Zim. It's all about his teammates," D.C. GM Mike Rizzo told FOX5 in D.C.'s David Feldman in an interview earlier this week, "He doesn't want it to be a distraction to the guys in the clubhouse, so I'm not putting a deadline on it. [Zimmerman's agent] Brodie Van Wagenen and myself, we're going to continue to talk until we get this thing done and hopefully it will come to fruition and we'll get a good result."
The Nats' general manager said much the same this afternoon once the deadline had passed, telling reporters, as quoted by the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore among others, that, "'We’re still working toward an agreement. We don’t have an agreement at this time. We’ve come a long way and bridged a big gap from the beginning of this to where we are currently.'" Zimmerman, in an ESPN Baseball Tonight interview with Tim Kurkjian on Friday, said that though there were still obstacles to overcome, "... we've come a long way in the last month or two, so I'll be happy to see what happens in the next twenty-four hours."
According to reports out of Viera, Florida this afternoon, the talks will continue with Zimmerman's side, in his own words as quoted by the WaPost's Mr. Kilgore on Twitter (@AdamKilgoreWP), recently offering, "'... one other creative solution to try and bridge this gap,'" that keeps a deal from getting completed. Former Nats' GM and current ESPN and MLB Network Radio analyst Jim Bowden (@JimBowdenESPNXM) wrote in a series of tweets on Twitter this afternoon that the deadline to get a deal done is for real:
@JimBowdenESPNXM: "Nationals ownership committed to trying to get this deal done today with Zim..both sides trying to be creative. NO TRADE clause only barrier."
If and when a deal gets done we'll update the story...
• Non-Zim Chatter:
MASNSports.com's Phil Wood brought up Arizona outfielder Gerardo Parra's name earlier this week in an article entitled, "Another outfield possibility?", referencing a report by AZCentral.com's Diamondbacks beat writer Nick Piecoro which dealt with the D-Backs' decision to sign free agent outfielder Jason Kubel to play left field after Parra had won a Gold Glove in left in 2011 while posting a .292/.357/.427 slash with 20 doubles, eight HR's and 15 stolen bases in 141 games and 493 plate appearances, over which he had a .993 fld% in left, a +11.2 UZR/150 and was worth a career-best +2.8 fWAR.
Parra is a 24-year-old, Venezuelan-born outfielder who signed as an amateur free agent with Arizona in 2004 when current Nats' GM Mike Rizzo was the D-Backs' Director of Scouting. Since he debuted in '09, Parra has a .282/.331/.403 line with a 162-game average of 25 doubles, nine triples and seven home runs. In the AZCentral.com article by Mr. Piecoro, the reporter quotes Diamondbacks' manager Kirk Gibson suggesting that Parra could earn more playing time by improving his defense in center, where the left-hander could see time since, "Chris Young struggled against right-handers last season." MASN's Mr. Wood speculated that with Parra on the outside looking in as a fourth outfielder after a strong year, he might be a player the Washington Nationals could target.
MLB.com's Bill Ladson wrote this afternoon in an article entitled, "Nationals interested in outfielder Gerardo Parra", that a baseball source told him the D-Backs' outfielder is on the Nats' radar. The Nats beat writer, who writes in the article that, "... it's almost a certainty that [John Lannan] will be dealt before the start of the season," speculates that the Nats' lefty could be included in a potential deal for an outfielder should they decide to trade for one this winter, though no direct connection is made between Lannan and Parra in the article. The Nats can, as discussed previously, go with a Michael Morse, Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper outfielder if Harper manages to make the Opening Day roster. Otherwise it's likely to be some combination of Morse, Werth, Rick Ankiel and Roger Bernadina in the outfield at the start of the 2012 season at least.
Of course, previous reports by AZCentral.com's Mr. Piecoro have him quoting D-Backs' GM Kevin Towers saying that thought he's received calls from teams interested in Parra, "... he listened. But he said [earlier this winter] he likes his club better with Parra than without him."
The Nationals are, according to sources at least, apparently still looking for the outfield bat they've been after all winter.