Talking to reporters after he homered for the 14th time in 2021, back on September 14th at home vs Miami, Ryan Zimmerman, the Washington Nationals’ first 1st Round pick (in 2005) and 16-year veteran, said he probably wouldn’t make a decision whether or not he returns for a 17th season in D.C. until this winter, when it’s time for him to start ramping up for the new campaign if he’s going to play.
“I think you get to the end, and I’ve said all along, just like I did last year, this is a decision that will be made in the offseason,” Zimmerman explained.
After opting out of MLB’s 60-game COVID campaign out of concern for the health of his family, Zimmerman returned to the Nationals on a 1-year/$1M deal (which he signed on January 22nd) this season.
“I’ll sit down with my family and kind of see where we’re at,” Zimmerman continued. “And this year has gone pretty well, it’s going to depend on how I feel after the season, depend on how I feel — December 1st honestly, if I want to start working out and getting ready to prepare to be productive for another major league season, I think that’s the hardest part is the offseason preparation and making sure for the two months, two and a half months before you go to camp that you’re doing something four or five days a week.
On Sept. 2, 2006, the Washington Nationals cracked open a comeback when Alfonso Soriano hit a game-tying HR and Mr. #WALKOFF himself drew a walk-off walk.@budweiserusa // #NATITUDE pic.twitter.com/SB9Ynd6swj— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) September 28, 2021
“Camp and the games and the season is the easy part, it’s putting in the work that it takes to be productive before that. There’s a lot of things that go into it. Obviously, I think the team is in a lot different situation than it was at the beginning of last year, we’ll see how that goes, there’s a CBA that needs to be signed, we’ll see how that goes.
“Those are some things that I’ll have to think about.”
Coming off the bench and occasionally starting at first base behind Josh Bell, Zimmerman had a .241/.280/.469 line with 14 doubles and 14 home runs over 105 games and 261 plate appearances before he started in last night’s game against the Colorado Rockies in Coors Field.
Zimmerman’s manager, Davey Martinez, talked before the 2nd of 3 in Denver about getting the veteran in the lineup and how he wanted to handle things over the final four games this season.
As far as a plan for the finale with the Rockies and the final series of the season, at home in D.C. against the Boston Red Sox, Martinez said they were just taking it day-by-day in terms of how much Zimmerman will play.
“We’re just taking it day-by-day. I mean, I’d like to get a plan to see what — he’s been very quiet about what he wants to do,” Martinez explained. “So I talked to him last night, and I told him I wanted him to play today, and he was up for it. I wanted to give Josh a day [off], he comes back tomorrow in the day game, but he’s up for it.
“We’ll see what happens, I’m going to try to get him in one day the last series at home.”
Martinez was asked why he thinks Zimmerman has remained mum on the subject of his future.
“I have no idea,” he said. “I really don’t. But hey, it’s — when you get to be his age, and the way his career went, and you don’t know, honestly, I was the same way. Every year, once my contract was over I had to reevaluate, go home and realize, hey, I think I can play one more year, next thing you know I’m signing a two-year deal and we continue to play. I think he just wants to go home and just kind of reassess everything and see where he stands from there.”
When he started this season, Zimmerman put up a .242/.286/.468 line (before last night’s game) with nine of his 14 doubles, and 11 of 14 home runs as a starter, and he was 12 for 54 in his pinch hit at-bats, with five doubles and two home runs.
One thing is for sure, Martinez said, Zimmerman, who turned 37 on Tuesday, can still swing it.
“For me, there’s no doubt,” Martinez told reporters. “I still think he has a lot left in the tank. His bat speed is still there, as you can see, he’s still one of the better first baseman fielding-wise in the game, and has played well. He runs the bases well. Like I said, it’s all up to him.
“I did everything I can to keep him healthy this year, and we talked about that, and it was awesome that he was able to stay off the IL all year long, and participate, so it was a good all-around year for him, and I told him, for what you did coming off the bench, it’s not easy. That’s a tough job, and I think he realizes that now.”
Zimmerman went 2 for 4 with a double and a single in last night’s 3-1 loss, and he did once again address his plans for the future and when he’ll make a decision on 2022.
“I haven’t said anything because I really don’t know, to be honest with you,” Zimmerman told reporters.
“So, it’s — I don’t want to make a decision on anything before I really have closure on it.
“The last thing I would want to do is say I don’t want to come back and come December I’m sitting at home and talk with my family and kind of realize I do want to come back. So I just think there’s no real rush, but we’ll see. It will be fun either way. I’m sure I’ll play a little bit [in D.C. this weekend], I haven’t talked to [Davey] about it.”
If he wants to return, Martinez reiterated, he’s confident Zimmerman can still contribute.
“He works hard, he prepares himself well every day, and like I said, when you’ve got a good, healthy Zim, he can wow you every day,” Martinez said, “so I’m just glad, like I said earlier, I’m glad that we were able to keep him healthy, he was on the field, he enjoys it, you know, so like I said earlier we’ll see what happens this winter with him, but he’s done well, and I really believe that he can still play.”