Ryan Zimmerman’s agent, Brodie Van Wagenen of CAA Sports, arrived at Nationals spring training today amid the backdrop of Zimmerman’s looming deadline to table discussions regarding a potential contract discussion.
While Zimmerman hopes to complete a deal that will make him a National for the rest of his career, Van Wagenen called his attendance of the morning workout for pitchers and catchers standard spring training procedure. Van Wagenen planned to meet with the players he represents and speak with Nationals management about numerous CAA clients on the Nationals’ roster, which also include John Lannan, Drew Storen, Ross Detwiler and several minor leaguers.
Zimmerman has been adamant about his desire to table negotiations by the start of spring training in order avoid distraction for himself and his teammates.
While he has given no precise deadline, the Nationals’ first full-squad workout will come this weekend. He says the deadline is Saturday morning.
The sides have had no recent talks or developments. If the spring ends without a resolution, Zimmerman’s future in Washington would grow murkier. Zimmerman, the first draft pick in team history, has said he will test free agency if he doesn’t have a contract extension by the start of the 2013 season.
The window that ends in days, then, will be one of the final chances for the Nationals and Zimmerman to consummate a deal. Beginning the spring without a deal will also open up the possibility, however remote, that the Nationals consider trading Zimmerman at this year’s July trade deadline.
The Nationals and Zimmerman’s camp have been in discussions for more than a year, and the Nationals understand exactly the price it would take to lock up Zimmerman.
Zimmerman has expressed an openness to be creative with a possible contract deal, whether that means deferred money or other kinds of unique structuring. He has also expressed confidence, based partly on a strong relationship with General Manager Mike Rizzo, that he will reach a deal.
At the end of today’s workout, Van Wagenen and Rizzo chatted casually. Whether or not their discussions grow more serious – soon – will play a significant factor in the direction of the franchise’s future.