Nationals pitcher Jordan Zimmermann watched last week as his six other arbitration-eligible teammates reached deals for next season, but the 26-year-old right-hander said on Saturday that he’s in no rush to come to his own agreement. Speaking at the team’s fan festival at Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Zimmerman called arbitration “a fun little process” and said he’s willing to have his case heard by a mediator.
“If we have to go, we’re ready to go,” Zimmerman said. “We obviously feel like we have a pretty strong case, and we’ll see what happens.”
Zimmermann went through the arbitration process after the 2011 season and ultimately agreed to a $2.3 million deal. He is seeking a raise to $5.8 million for next season, but the Nationals have countered with $4.6 million.
Zimmermann posted career-bests in wins and earned run average as Washington surged to the top of the National League East standings last year, his fourth season. The pitcher went 12-8 with a 2.94 ERA in 195.2 innings. On Saturday, he said reaching the 200-inning mark for the first time is among his top individual priorities for the coming season.
Arbitration hearings are set to begin Feb. 4, and parties can continue to negotiate until then, though Zimmermann said talks are “kind of hung up right now.” General Manager Mike Rizzo indicated the same earlier Saturday, saying other cases will ultimately dictate Zimmermann’s salary.
“Unfortunately in arbitration, the other teams affect what happens with your case,” Rizzo said. “With Zimmerman’s class of pitchers around him, we’re waiting to see where we’re going to be at.”
Rizzo previously said he would be “open-minded” about a multiyear extension with Zimmermann, though the executive added he had not discussed such a deal since before last season. The team controls the pitcher’s rights through the 2015 season.
“Obviously, we have to get the one-year deal done first,” Zimmermann said. “If the multiyear deal comes, and it’s the right deal, we’ll take it, but if not, we’ll definitely wait.”