Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo expressed confidence in Ryan Zimmerman this winter when he was asked what leads him to believe the 32-year-old first baseman is likely to bounce back after a down year at the plate in 2016.
“Zim’s our first baseman going into this offseason and Spring Training,” Rizzo said in early December, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.
Zimmerman finished the 2016 season, his 12th, with a .218/.272/.370 line, 18 doubles and 15 homers in 467 plate appearances, over which he was worth -1.3 fWAR.
“I like the bat speed. I like the bat path. He had a good approach at the plate,” Rizzo added at the Winter Meetings.
“The peripherals say that he’s going to have a normal Ryan Zimmerman season next year.”
Behind Zimmerman, if he doesn’t bounce back? The top options before today: Clint Robinson? Matt Skole?
Could a team expecting to defend their NL East crown and compete into late October go into the season with big questions at first base?
Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell broached that subject in a look at some of the question marks on the roster:
“And ‘who’s on first?’ You guessed it: maybe the ultimate mystery man — the beloved and dedicated Zimmerman. Is he a washed-up star who will need to be platooned or benched despite $46 million left on his contract? You want a cold-eyed look? The players he most resembles at the same age are Vernon Wells and Robin Ventura, both in career slides. They hit .218 and .232 with 25 and 24 homers, respectively, at age 32. In a No. 7 hitter, the Nats would take that and run.”
Are the Nationals concerned about Zimmerman? Are they concerned about the options to back up their everyday first baseman? According to a report by former Nats’ GM Jim Bowden on Twitter this morning, the Nationals are close to signing Adam Lind, 33, who has played the majority of his games at first since 2011.
Adam Lind close to signing with #Nationals according to source— Jim Bowden (@JimBowden_ESPN) February 13, 2017
Lind became a free agent this winter after putting up a .239/.286/.431 line, 17 doubles and 20 home runs in 126 games and 430 plate appearances, over which he was worth -0.6 fWAR.
Over the course of his 11-year career, Lind has put up a .271/.328/.462 career line with a 162-game average of 32 doubles and 25 HRs and he’s hit 20+ HRs in six of the last eight seasons.
Washington Post writer Chelsea Janes too is now reporting that a deal with Adam Lind is close:
Nationals nearing deal with 1B/OF Adam Lind, according to a person familiar with the situation.— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) February 13, 2017
Adam Lind has deal with nats, pending physical.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 13, 2017
As MLB.com’s Andrew Simon reported this afternoon, Lind has also been a pretty solid bat off the bench in his career:
Struggled last year but .287/.347/.502 career line vs. RHP. And FWIW, .309/.389/.532 in 108 PA as a pinch-hitter. https://t.co/Vl4dfrzvMy— Andrew Simon (@AndrewSimonMLB) February 13, 2017