Nationals hope to avoid arbitration with Jordan Zimmermann

January 21, 2013
(Alex Brandon/AP)
(Alex Brandon/AP)

Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo says he hopes to avoid an arbitration hearing with Jordan Zimmermann, the only remaining arbitration-eligible National yet to agree to a deal for his 2013 salary, and could be open to multi-year-deal talks with Ian Desmond and Zimmermann.

The Nationals reached deals with six of their seven arbitration-eligible players on Friday. All but Craig Stammen received one-year deals. Zimmermann was eligible for arbitration for the second time in his career this winter; he was awarded $2.3 million as a Super Two-eligible player following the 2011 season. Friday afternoon was the deadline for teams and arbitration-eligible players’ representatives to exchange salary figures for next season.

SFX, the agency which represents Zimmermann, is seeking $5.8 million for next season for the 27-year-old right-hander, but the Nationals have countered with $4.6 million. The two sides are talking, Rizzo said Saturday, with the Nationals hoping to avoid an arbitration hearing, a contentious process that most teams generally prefer to avoid by striking deals.

“We’ve proved in the past that we will (go to a hearing) if we have to,” said Rizzo, speaking after Saturdays’ New York Baseball Writers’ Association Dinner where Bryce Harper and Davey Johnson received their end-of-season awards. “We certainly don’t want to. He’s a long-term part of our organization and you hate to go to arbitration with him. But sometimes you have to if the numbers aren’t matched up and you can’t, and they see it one way and we see it the other, you have a third party break the tie.”

Zimmermann and Ian Desmond, both important reasons for the Nationals’ success last season and vital pieces of their future, both seem like ideal candidates for multi-year extensions. Both are under team control until 2016. And if both continue to performan well, their salaries will continue to rise in arbitration. Desmond, who had a breakout 2012 season, will early nearly $3.7 million more next season after being eligible for arbitration for the first time in his career this winter.

As Friday’s deadline loomed, Rizzo said it’s often easier to first get the one-year deals done for the following season and then consider long-term deals.

Rizzo said he spoke with Desmond, 27, during last season about the idea of a contract extension. But Desmond asked to table it until the offseason, wanting to concentrate on the season. Rizzo said he broached the subject of an extension with Zimmermann before the 2012 season but hasn’t revisited the idea with him since.

Rizzo said he is open to extensions for both but didn’t say it would definitely happen. “Any long-term deal that makes sense for us to keep component players, we’re definitely open minded about,” he said.

Stammen was the only arbitration-eligible Nationals player to agree to a deal beyond one-year, signing a two-year $2.25 million contract that will buy out his first two years of arbitration. The Nationals control Stammen’s rights through 2016, and Rizzo said it was ideal to lock up the versatile, right-handed reliever, who is just 28.

“Often times, at that point of a reliever’s career, when they’re first-time eligibles, and you’re talking that kind of money, it’s nice to give them some,” Rizzo said. “It’s the first time in his career he’s really had some security. And we thought he earned it and the numbers made sense for us. It gave us a little cost-certainty. It gave him a little security.”

What does Opening Day mean?

Hi folks. Tons of anticipation out here at Nationals Park, and deservedly so. The Nationals just honored a slew of award-winners from 2012 — rookie of the year Bryce Harper, Gold Glove winner Adam LaRoche, manager of the year Davey Johnson, and silver sluggers Ian Desmond, Stephen Strasburg and LaRoche. A different pregame than in past years, for sure.

But the opener in baseball is perhaps different than in any other sport. Essentially, each game means less. The Nationals expect to contend for a National League East title this season. That won’t change with today’s result.

So with that, let’s look back on past Nats’ openers. In eight previous openers since baseball returned in 2005, Washington is 2-6. Fits right in with the history, right? In home openers, they’re 3-5.

In 2012, when they won their only division title, they beat the Cubs 2-1 in Chicago on Opening Day, then won their home opener over the Reds. Other results:

2011: Lost 2-0 to Atlanta

2010: Lost 11-1 to Philadelphia

2009: Lost 12-6 at Florida, then lost the home opener 9-8 to Philadelphia (en route to an 0-7 and 1-10 start)

2008: Beat Atlanta 3-2 on Ryan Zimmerman’s walk-off homer that opened Nationals Park

2007: Lost 9-2 to Florida

2006: Lost 3-2 at the Mets, then lost the home opener 7-1 to the Mets

2005: Lost 8-4 at Philadelphia, then beat Arizona 5-3 in the home opener

They’ve taken the field. Here we go.

Dan Haren done, Craig Stammen in

END 2: The starter pitched two innings, allowed one run on two hits, struck out three batters and walked none. He threw 35 pitches, 24 of them strikes. Reliever Craig Stammen came on to pitch the third inning.

Dan Haren settles in

MID 2: After a shaky start, Dan Haren looked far more comfortable in the second frame against the bottom of the Marlins order. He got a leadoff ground out and then struck out Kyle Skipworth and Gorkys Hernandez looking. With location, Haren kept the hitters off balance and they looked uncomfortable with awkward swings. Marlins, 1-0.

Denard Span walks, no one scores

END 1: Denard Span worked a leadoff walk to start the first inning against Marlins right-hander Nathan Eovaldi. But Bryce Harper struck out swinging and then after a long at-bat Jayson Werth struck out looking and Span was caught stealing in the same play. Marlins lead, 1-0.

Dan Haren’s shaky first inning

MID 1: The Nationals’ new right-handed starter suffered a shaky first inning in his spring training debut. He allowed a triple to Christian Yelich on the second pitch of the game and then a run on a flyout by the next batter. He allowed one more hit, a single, and then made an uncharacteristic error on a grounder back to him on the mound. (The back-handed throw to first base wasn’t in time.) Haren threw 20 pitches, 14 of them for strikes. Marlins lead, 1-0.

Nationals hope to avoid arbitration with Jordan Zimmermann

(Alex Brandon/AP)
(Alex Brandon/AP)

Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo says he hopes to avoid an arbitration hearing with Jordan Zimmermann, the only remaining arbitration-eligible National yet to agree to a deal for his 2013 salary, and could be open to multi-year-deal talks with Ian Desmond and Zimmermann.

The Nationals reached deals with six of their seven arbitration-eligible players on Friday. All but Craig Stammen received one-year deals. Zimmermann was eligible for arbitration for the second time in his career this winter; he was awarded $2.3 million as a Super Two-eligible player following the 2011 season. Friday afternoon was the deadline for teams and arbitration-eligible players’ representatives to exchange salary figures for next season.

SFX, the agency which represents Zimmermann, is seeking $5.8 million for next season for the 27-year-old right-hander, but the Nationals have countered with $4.6 million. The two sides are talking, Rizzo said Saturday, with the Nationals hoping to avoid an arbitration hearing, a contentious process that most teams generally prefer to avoid by striking deals.

“We’ve proved in the past that we will (go to a hearing) if we have to,” said Rizzo, speaking after Saturdays’ New York Baseball Writers’ Association Dinner where Bryce Harper and Davey Johnson received their end-of-season awards. “We certainly don’t want to. He’s a long-term part of our organization and you hate to go to arbitration with him. But sometimes you have to if the numbers aren’t matched up and you can’t, and they see it one way and we see it the other, you have a third party break the tie.”

Zimmermann and Ian Desmond, both important reasons for the Nationals’ success last season and vital pieces of their future, both seem like ideal candidates for multi-year extensions. Both are under team control until 2016. And if both continue to performan well, their salaries will continue to rise in arbitration. Desmond, who had a breakout 2012 season, will early nearly $3.7 million more next season after being eligible for arbitration for the first time in his career this winter.

As Friday’s deadline loomed, Rizzo said it’s often easier to first get the one-year deals done for the following season and then consider long-term deals.

Rizzo said he spoke with Desmond, 27, during last season about the idea of a contract extension. But Desmond asked to table it until the offseason, wanting to concentrate on the season. Rizzo said he broached the subject of an extension with Zimmermann before the 2012 season but hasn’t revisited the idea with him since.

Rizzo said he is open to extensions for both but didn’t say it would definitely happen. “Any long-term deal that makes sense for us to keep component players, we’re definitely open minded about,” he said.

Stammen was the only arbitration-eligible Nationals player to agree to a deal beyond one-year, signing a two-year $2.25 million contract that will buy out his first two years of arbitration. The Nationals control Stammen’s rights through 2016, and Rizzo said it was ideal to lock up the versatile, right-handed reliever, who is just 28.

“Often times, at that point of a reliever’s career, when they’re first-time eligibles, and you’re talking that kind of money, it’s nice to give them some,” Rizzo said. “It’s the first time in his career he’s really had some security. And we thought he earned it and the numbers made sense for us. It gave us a little cost-certainty. It gave him a little security.”

James Wagner joined the Post in August 2010 and, prior to covering the Nationals, covered high school sports across the region.
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