He also repeated what he's said since being drafted by Washington in 2005: He wants to stay with the Nationals for the long term.
Zimmerman said Friday the point of signing a new deal "is to be here, not to sign a deal that's team-friendly to have it with another team. That's the whole point of a deal."
He previously had set Saturday as a deadline for negotiations; that's when Washington starts formal workouts. Zimmerman said he doesn't want talk about contract discussions to be a distraction in the clubhouse during spring training or the season.
Zimmerman says if "the big things" are settled by Saturday, then other details can be ironed out later.
"The big things have to be taken care of: the years, the money, that kind of stuff. The big parts of the contract," Zimmerman said. "There's obviously little things in the language that take a little bit longer to take care of. ... But we have to have the pressing issues, which are a few things, done by Saturday."
He has two seasons left on a $45 million, five-year contract. So he acknowledged this is not "make or break" time, but noted that by getting something done now, the Nationals could move on to locking up other players to long-term deals.
Zimmerman hit .289 with 12 homers, 21 doubles and 49 RBIs last season, when injuries limited him to 395 at-bats. He's been an NL All-Star and won Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards.
"These things, they can go from pretty optimistic to pretty pessimistic real quick. They go both ways. You get something done, then you need to work on something else, and that thing becomes a roadblock," Zimmerman said. "There's so many things that go on with these things. You can't really tell until it's finally done."