If Jordan Zimmermann is bothered by the chatter about whether or not he'll get a long-term deal or bothered by the trade rumors this winter, the laid-back 28-year-old Wisconsinite doesn't show it.
Washington's 28-year-old starter met with reporters on Saturday at NatsFest at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in D.C. and calmly fielded questions, some of which dealt with what the future holds for the Nationals' 2007 2nd Round pick.
Though there is plenty of discussion about Zimmermann this winter since he's set to become a free agent after the 2015 campaign and has yet to agree on a long-term deal that would keep him in the nation's capital, the right-handed starter said he's not following the reports.
"I'm really not listening to it," Zimmermann admitted. "I'm here for another year and I'm just getting ready for next year. That's the main focus right now."
Coming off a career-best +5.2 fWAR campaign in his sixth MLB season, which saw Zimmermann go (14-5) in 32 starts with a 2.66 ERA, 2.68 FIP, 29 walks (1.31 BB/9) and 182 Ks (8.20 K/9) in 199 ⅔ IP, the pitcher Nationals' skipper Matt Williams described last week as the "rock" of the Nats' pitching staff reiterated yesterday that he just wants what he sees as a fair deal for both sides.
"If it's a fair value, like I have said all along, I would gladly sign," Zimmermann said. "But at the end of the day, it's gotta be something that's fair and if it's not, then I'll be moving on."
So what's fair in his mind, the 6-year/$155M contract free agent lefty Jon Lester signed with the Chicago Cubs? Zimmermann was asked what he thought of the deal Lester signed last week?
"I really had no reaction at all," he said. "I'm happy for the guy and I really don't have an answer for that."
Zimmermann is, of course, one of five Nationals, along with Doug Fister, Denard Span, Ian Desmond and Tyler Clippard, that could conceivably leave if they are unable to agree on long-term deals. So will the Nationals try keeping the 2014 NL East Champs together (with a few noteable changes) for one more run?
"We're all under contract for another year," Zimmermann said. "So we're going to have pretty much our same team back from last year. We're going to do our best to give it a little better run this upcoming year and we'll see what happens."
Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo said much the same on Saturday when asked if he believed any or all of the five could be signed to extensions that would keep them in D.C.
"They’re signed in 2015 and that’s right now what we’re focused on," Rizzo explained. "And that’s all we can comment about the negotiations."
He did, however, add that since meeting with Zimmermann's representatives at the Winter Meetings last week in San Diego, the two sides haven't spoken again.
"We haven't set up [more meetings] yet," Rizzo said. "I haven't spoken to them since the Winter Meetings."
The longer the situation drags on without a resolution, the more rumors there will be.
"There's rumors floating around everywhere," Zimmermann said.
"I'm just focused on next year and until somebody tells me I'm going elsewhere, I'm a National. Just getting ready for the year. It's baseball and people are going to say what they want to say and type what they want to type. At the end of the day, I'm still with the Nats and I'm focused on the upcoming season.
Asked if he was hopeful something could be worked out, Zimmermann said he was, but there is a lot of negotiating to be done before that happens.
"I'm hopeful, but we've got a lot of talking to do," he said. "Obviously we've only had one meeting so far and it went well. We'll see where it goes."
Could those talks conceivably continue once the season has started?
"I don't like talking during the season," Zimmermann admitted. "We made that clear last year and the year before that. We'll see what the talks bring and we'll see in the coming month or so where we're at."
Does his history with the only franchise he's known as a professional factor in his decision-making?
"Like I said the whole time, I'm not going to get into details. I'm a National for one year, for this upcoming season, and we'll see if it's a fair, if we can come up with something that's fair for both sides, then we'll sign the deal. At the end of the day, it's gotta be fair."