11:50 a.m.: General Manager Mike Rizzo is expected to meet this afternoon with third baseman Ryan Zimmerman’s agent, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The meeting could prove pivotal in the sides’ hope to agree to a contract extension by Zimmerman’s self-imposed Saturday morning deadline. 

Zimmerman’s agent, Brodie Van Wagenen of CAA Sports, had planned to leave Viera by Thursday evening, making today’s likely meeting the final chance for the sides to meet face-to-face before Saturday, when Zimmerman will table discussions in order to not distract from his performance or his teammates. 

Van Wagenen remains in Viera but was not present at the team’s complex this morning. He has not responded for requests for comment. 

While Rizzo said this morning that Zimmerman’s deadline would not deter him from attempting further negotiation during the spring, Zimmerman has been adamant about not discussing his deal once baseball begins. 

Zimmerman had a similar deadline, for opening day, before the 2009 season. While the team announced the deal well into the season, it had been agreed to, in principle, before the deadline Zimmerman imposed.

Original post: While there have been no recent developments in talks between the Nationals and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman regarding a contract extension, General Manager Mike Rizzo said the sides are working toward a deal with Zimmerman’s self-imposed Saturday morning deadline to table discussions looming.

“We’re trying to reach the goal of getting him signed,” Rizzo said. “I don’t have a real good idea on the deadline, whether it’ll get done or not. We’re continuing to try.”

Zimmerman’s agent, Brodie Van Wagenen of CAA Sports, arrived at Nationals spring training yesterday and will attend today’s workout, too. Rizzo expressed at least a mild confidence that the sides could reach an agreement to keep Zimmerman in Washington for the remainder of his career.

“We’re working extremely hard at it,” Rizzo said. “When both sides want something and they’re working at it, yeah, I’m hopeful. … We’ve got a player who wants to be in Washington, a GM and an ownership that wants him here. We’re working hard to get one of our franchise players signed here for the long-term.”

Zimmerman has established Saturday morning as the deadline in order to end negotiations before position players officially report. He has been steadfast in not wanting the contract issue to distract him or his teammates, but Rizzo said Zimmerman’s deadline “won’t stop me from talking” to Van Wagenen regarding an extension.

The Nationals understand the price it would take to lock up Zimmerman, long the face of their franchise. Zimmerman has expressed the willingness to negotiate his deal despite coming off a season in which he missed 60 games with an injury, at a moment when his market value is not at its highest.

Zimmerman is signed for two more years, but he has said he plans to test free agency if he cannot reach an extension before the 2013 season.

This morning, Boz wrote the Nationals need to signed Zimmerman now.