UPDATED 2:20 P.M.
The Nationals and Ryan Zimmerman remain in talks to reach an agreement for a contract extension by the end of today, with Zimmerman’s desire for a no-trade clause the final, crucial impediment blocking a deal that would keep Zimmerman in Washington for the foreseeable future.
General Manager Mike Rizzo and Brodie Van Wagenen, Zimmerman’s agent, continued talks beyond 10 a.m., when the Nationals’ first full-squad workout began, Zimmerman’s original deadline. Zimmerman’s camp gave “one other creative solution to try and bridge this gap,” Zimmerman said. If a deal can’t be reached around those parameters, the negotiation would presumably breakdown.
“We’re still working toward an agreement,” Rizzo said. “We don’t have an agreement at this time. We’ve come a long way and bridged a big gap from the beginning of this to where we are currently. But we’re not there yet. This is a very complicated, lucrative contract that we’re discussing, and we’re not quite at the finish line yet. I’m still hopeful that we can come to an agreement, but we're not there yet. That’s where we’re at.”
Zimmerman has been adamant that he is willing to sign a “team-friendly” deal because he wants to play in Washington for the rest of his career. The Nationals have known the cost it would take to sign Zimmerman since mid-January, but they have not agreed to the no-trade protection Zimmerman seeks.
“It’s the same thing we’ve been talking about the whole time,” Zimmerman said. “It’s something creative to ensure me that I will be here. Because that’s the reason I’m signing the deal. That’s basically the only thing left.”
Zimmerman is signed through 2013, but there is still urgency for the Nationals and Zimmerman to reach a contract extension now. Zimmerman plans to test free agency if not extended by the start of the 2013 season, which would make next offseason the final window to negotiate.
Zimmerman is coming off a season in which he missed 60 games because of a torn abdominal muscle that required surgery. If the Nationals wait for next offseason and Zimmerman has a typical and healthy season, the cost to sign him would increase.
Zimmerman established today as the deadline so he can focus on baseball and not distract his teammates.
“It’ll be done either yes or no today,” Zimmerman said. “We’ll have closure either way. I would really rather not talk about it anymore today, because I don’t think it’s fair. By the end of today, we’ll know yes or no whether we’re going to do it or we’re not going to do it. Like I said all along, we can concentrate on baseball.”
Said Rizzo: “Players want to put that stuff on the backburner. He’s a ballplayer. It’s not his job to worry about this stuff. It’s my job and it’s his agent’s job to worry about the negotiating of the contract. That’s typical. Most players, they’re going to talk baseball, they’re going to think baseball. We need Ryan Zimmerman to be concentrating 100 percent on baseball. I think it's very typical.”
Zimmerman has been adamant he will not negotiate after today. Rizzo, though, said he would try to continuing engaging Zimmerman’s agent should today pass with no deal.
“If we can’t come to an agreement by the end of today, or whatever the deadline is, I’m certainly going to continue to discuss the contract, because I want to sign Ryan Zimmerman,” Rizzo said. “Ryan’s got to concentrate on baseball, and that’s what he’s going to do, because that’s what he does best. He has hired people to do his negotiating, and I’m certainly going to continue to talk to him.”
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