There’s certainly been a large amount of space devoted to coverage of a pending contract extension for Ryan Zimmerman here at DoD over the past few days. But let’s face it, there has never been another player to stake such a claim to the moniker “Face of the Franchise” than Zimmerman with the Nationals. He’s been the homegrown star since Day 1 and there aren’t many (if any at all) fans of this team that don’t want to see Zimmerman continue his career in Washington for the foreseeable future.
So, you could say the excessive coverage is warranted. An extension for Zimmerman is kind of a big deal.
As Marty discussed just a short time ago, Zimmerman’s initial deadline for a deal to be completed by came and went this morning without any formal announcements. That means no deal was in place – at least not one that was close enough to completion to warrant announcing. It also means the sides aren’t done talking, however, which brings us to where we stand just a few hours later.
According to Mark Zuckerman, Zimmerman chose to extend the deadline this morning until the end of the day, rather than sticking with the 10:00 AM start time to today’s Spring Training workouts. After going through drills with his teammates, Zimmerman told Zuckerman:
Today is the day. It’s either going to get done, or it’s not going to get done. Both sides are working to get over the last little couple of hurdles, I guess you could call them.
While Zimmerman didn’t get into specifics, we’ve been hearing rumblings for the past few days leading us to believe that the only significant piece preventing a deal from being completed has to do with the inclusion of a no-trade clause covering the next four seasons. After the 2015 season Zimmerman will have earned 10-and-5 rights, meaning he’ll be able to veto any potential deals, so the concern is really only leading up to that point. Zimmerman has consistently been saying that his only motivation to signing a team friendly deal would be so that he could remain with the team – which is certainly understandable.
Other details do still need to be worked out – for instance, will a new contract replace the two remaining years of team control or will it simply start from the end of those two years? – but all indications seem to point towards a deal at least moving in the right direction. ESPN’s Jim Bowden has reported that according to a team source a deal will be “completed tonight, one way or another”.
While Zimmerman’s deadline may pass tonight without a formal announcement, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the chances of signing him to an extension end tonight. Brodie Van Wagenen, Zimmerman’s agent, and Nationals GM Mike Rizzo can (and likely will) continue talking after tonight in the event that a deal is not completed. The two sides have been talking for much of the past year, slowly ironing out details to a new contract which Rizzo has termed “very lucrative and very complicated”.
For what it’s worth, Zimmerman also set a deadline the last time that he was undergoing contract negotiations with the team, prior to the 2009 season. His deal then (a five year, $45 Million contract) was not announced until three weeks after the deadline.
Most Nationals fans are likely keeping their fingers crossed that a deal is announced within the next few hours as, if nothing else, it gives us all a certain understanding as to how long we’ll be able to watch Zimmerman wear the Curly W on his cap. We all just need to remember, however, that the absence of an announcement tonight (or even tomorrow) doesn’t mean the chances of an agreement being reached are any less likely.