Ryan Zimmerman arrived in the Washington Nationals clubhouse this morning, about 24 hours before his self-imposed deadline to table negotiations for a contract extension. He made himself an egg-white omelet and chatted briefly with General Manager Mike Rizzo, the conversation pertaining only to the Ryan Braun case. Zimmerman did not seem worried.
“Slept great last night,” he said. “Nothing’s changed since yesterday. No phone calls. That’s kind of the update.”
Zimmerman outlined his stance, explaining why he wants a full no-trade clause without directly stating that is the main remaining hurdle separating the sides from a deal.
“The important part of me signing this deal is to be here, not to sign a deal that’s team-friendly to have it with another team,” Zimmerman said. “That’s the whole point of doing it. … I wouldn’t sign a deal like this for the Red Sox or the Yankees or the Dodgers or any other team.”
Zimmerman’s agent, Brodie Van Wagenen, met in person with Rizzo yesterday and left Viera last night without a deal in place.
“There’s still things that need to be worked on on both sides,” Zimmerman said. “We need to do some stuff; they need to do some stuff. We’ll see. I stay out of most of this stuff until it’s the decision time. We’ll see. We’ve come a long way from back where we started. You never know.”
Zimmerman, who received a physical this morning along with the rest of the Nationals’ position players, said he has not been preoccupied with the talks. He found comfort in the fact that his contract runs through 2013, even though not reaching a deal by Saturday would make his future in Washington murkier.
“If it happens, I’m thrilled,” Zimmerman said. “If not, I’ve got two years left here still. I’m excited for this year. We’ve got a great team. We’ve got a chance to do something special, something we’ve not done with this organization. I think all of us are kind of ready to get to work and get going.
“It’s not like this is the last year. It’s not make-or-break. 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.”
Zimmerman has been adamant about the Saturday deadline, not wanting his contract issue to become a clubhouse distraction as full-squad workouts begin. He allowed that as long as the principles are in place, the minor details could be worked out later.
“The big things have to be taken care of: the years, the money, that kind of stuff,” Zimmerman said. “There’s obviously little things, the language, that take a little bit longer to get taken care of. If we can get the most big things done by Saturday, I don’t have to sign the contract by Saturday. We have to have the pressing issues, of which there are a few things, done by Saturday.”