- Zimmerman The Nationals, trying to lock up their franchise cornerstone, are in serious negotiations with third baseman Ryan Zimmerman about a long-term contract extension, according to major-league sources.
The talks are "moving in a good direction," one source said, but several issues remain. The terms are not known, but the target for Zimmerman is believed to be the six-year, $66.1 million deal the Orioles awarded outfielder Nick Markakis, a more accomplished player.
Zimmerman, 24, signed a one-year, $3.325 million contract with the Nationals in February, avoiding salary arbitration. His extension likely would cover his remaining arbitration years and at least two years of free agency.
Zimmerman, the fourth overall pick in the 2005 draft, averaged 22 homers and 100 RBIs in his first two major-league seasons, but was limited to 106 games last season due to a small labral tear in his left shoulder.
As some of you might recall, I've always been high on Zimmerman. At one point, I might even have compared him favorably to David Wright (though I hope not). But I have to say that a Markakis-like deal doesn't strike me as wildly appropriate unless the Nationals have an excellent reason to think that Zimmerman's going to be the player I used to think he was going to be.
And I'm afraid I don't like his trend. As a 21-year-old rookie in 2001, Zimmerman posted a 114 OPS+. At 22, 107. At 23 -- granted, with the bad shoulder -- 101. This season he's struggling. I'm not going to suggest that nine games tell us much of anything ... but wouldn't you want to see a few glimmers of that 21-year-old Zimmerman before committing north of $60 million? I would.