Feb 25

No New Deal for Zimmerman… Yet

Ryan Zimmerman said there was no update on a possible new contract this morning as his self-imposed deadline passed and the team began its full-squad workout of the spring in Viera., Fla.

When asked about the talks by MASNsports.com’s Pete Kerzel, Zimmerman shrugged and said, “Right down to the last minute, I guess.”

Zimmerman, 27, who has one All-Star appearance, a Gold Glove and two Silver Sluggers under his belt in six major league seasons, is signed through the 2013 season. The deal will pay him $12 million this year and $14 million next year. Recent contracts signed by Zimmerman’s contemporaries would seem to put a new one in the range of five to eight years and $120 million to $160 million.

Zimmerman tells reporters, including The Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore and The Washington Times’ Mark Lancaster that the main hangup so far is not money, but whether the deal will be “team friendly to have it with another team.” That’s apparently a reference to Kilgore’s report that Zimmerman wants a no-trade clause. Kilgore says General Manager Mike Rizzo is reluctant to include one for Zimmerman, who would receive automatic no-trade protection in 2016 under baseball’s current collective bargaining agreement.

Also, Comcast SportsNet’s Mark Zuckerman writes this morning that it’s unclear whether the Nationals would tear up his current contract and start a new one now, or wait until his current deal expires.

Zim’s agent, Brodie Van Wagenen, was in Viera last week for talks with Rizzo, but Kilgore now reports that Van Wagenen left town Thursday night, without a deal in place. Kilgore says that’s apparently not a bad sign, and does not necessarily prevent one from being completed.

Zimmerman does not seem to be bothered by reporting on the talks, but he is adamant that he won’t discuss a new contract once camp has formally started. Rizzo said this week that the deadline would not prevent him and Van Wagenen from talking further.

Zimmerman also made a point of telling reporters this week that failure to reach a deal this week won’t preclude one in the future.

“It’s not like this is the last year. It’s not make-or-break,” he told Kilgore and other reporters. “Getting this done would obviously make them not have to worry about it this year or next year or next offseason. It gives us a core group of guys in place for a long time. They could forget about me and start taking care of the younger guys that are going to need to be taken care of.”

Just because there was no announcement today doesn’t mean that a deal won’t be announced in the coming weeks. Kilgore noted this week that agreement in principle on Zimmerman’s current contract came about 10 minutes before the first pitch on opening day in 2009, Zimmerman’s self-imposed negotiation deadline that year. The deal was not signed or announced for several weeks.

As with the rest of the developments in this most promising of all Nats seasons, we’ll just have to let it all play out and see what happens.