Ryan Zimmerman Rumors

Nationals Rumors: Zimmerman, Coffey, Flores

The latest on the Nationals...

Latest On Ryan Zimmerman Extension Talks

"There currently are no active discussions regarding a contract extension for Ryan [Zimmerman]," agent Brodie Van Wagenen told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.  Kilgore explains that while the sides have had informal dialogue, no specifics or proposals have been exchanged.  Meanwhile Nationals GM Mike Rizzo told Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, "It’s important to us.  We’ve already begun preliminary discussions with his people. He’s an important piece for us, a guy that we would like to have here long-term."  Though the statements appear conflicting, it's probably just a difference of opinion over the technical definition of "discussions."

Certainly, both sides have the same goal of a long-term extension.  Zimmerman is eligible for free agency after the 2013 season, so he's not as close as Matt Kemp was but closer than Troy Tulowitzki and Ryan Braun.  As Kilgore explains, Zimmerman wants a deal by spring training 2013 so as to avoid distractions during that season.  

Zimmerman said in August he wants a contract longer than five years, and seven or eight seems likely.  The big question is if the two sides can agree on how Zimmerman's injury history should be factored in.

Rizzo On LaRoche, Zimmerman, Johnson, Harper

The Nationals are looking to contend in 2012 after finishing the 2011 season with an 80-81 record. GM Mike Rizzo discussed his offseason plans with Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com. Here are the highlights of their conversation: 

  • Plans can change, but the Nationals are currently comfortable with Adam LaRoche at first base and Michael Morse as a possible alternative. Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols loom as MVP-caliber options for teams willing to spend.
  • Rizzo said he’d like to improve the offense and explained that LaRoche could help the Nationals score by returning to his career norms in 2012.
  • Rizzo said the Nationals will look to “tweak” their lineup this offseason and suggested a major signing is not particularly likely. 
  • The Nationals will make “every effort” to keep Ryan Zimmerman long-term. Rizzo expects to try to hammer out an extension with the third baseman, whose contract expires after 2013.
  • The Nationals feel “pretty confident” that manager Davey Johnson will remain in place for years to come. However, they’re holding off on making official announcements about Johnson's 2012 status until after the World Series because they haven’t completed their due diligence regarding other candidates.
  • Bryce Harper’s timeline hasn’t changed. The top prospect’s arrival in the Major Leagues depends on how quickly he develops.

Ryan Zimmerman Talks Next Contract

Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman opened up about his next contract, talking to beat writer Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post on Sunday.  Zimmerman, who has repeatedly stated his desire to remain with the Nationals beyond his current contract, expressed confidence that a new deal will get done.

Kilgore lays out the many factors sure to figure into the negotiations.  Troy Tulowitzki and Ryan Braun will come up as comparables, which is cool since the three players were drafted so close together in 2005.  The new portion of Tulo's contract averages $19MM per year over six free agent years, while Braun received $21MM per year over five.  Braun received more per year than Tulowitzki partly because he was closer to free agency, so will Zimmerman receive more than Braun since he's just two seasons away?  Zimmerman told Kilgore he's going to need a contract longer than his current five-year pact, and that 29-year-old free agents get seven to ten years.  Noted Zimmerman, "You only get one shot to try to get a big deal; if you’re lucky enough to get one shot, that’s the time you have to get it."    

Kilgore touches on Zimmerman's injury history, a major factor.  Out of six full seasons in the bigs, Zimmerman has missed large chunks of two of them.  He had a shoulder injury in 2008, after which he signed his five-year, $45MM contract.  This year, he had surgery to repair a torn abdominal muscle.  The Nationals know better than anyone whether these two injuries were isolated occurrences.

Back in March, Zimmerman remarked that "if you have one year before free agency, you might as well play your year out and see what happens."  That feeling hasn't changed much, as he told Kilgore Sunday that while he wouldn't completely rule out an extension with one year left before free agency, when a player gets to that point in his career he wants to make teams compete against each other.  If the Nationals want to hammer out an extension with Zimmerman and his agent Brodie Van Wagenen of CAA Sports, they've probably got a year or less to do so, since he's signed through 2013.

Zimmmerman is thinking at least seven years, which would take him through the 2020 season and tie him with Braun and Tulo for the latest any player is currently under contract.  Kilgore tosses out an eight-year, $175MM figure if Zimmerman wants to exceed Jayson Werth by $1MM through 2017 and then continue for another four years at $22MM per.  Such a contract would be the sixth-largest in baseball history, and he'd be the only player signed through 2021.  Zimmerman doesn't think his injury this year affects his contract situation at all, and if Washington matched Kilgore's estimate it'd suggest they feel the same.

NL East Notes: Nationals, Hamels, Pelfrey, Braves

Jimmy Rollins announced on Twitter that he has a mild grade 2 groin strain and will be on the disabled list until September. Here's the latest on the 81-44 Phillies and the rest of their division...

  • Ryan Zimmerman repeated to MLB.com's Bill Ladson that he'd like to spend his entire career in Washington. The third baseman is set to hit free agency after the 2013 season.
  • Scouts tell Bob Nightengale of USA Today that the Nationals will be powerful in a couple of years and would compete in the NL West right now (Twitter link).
  • The Phillies and Cole Hamels want to work out a long-term deal this offseason, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Gelb shows that Jered Weaver is about as statistically similar to Hamels as possible and suggests that the Phillies and Hamels could agree to a contract that mimics Weaver's recent five-year, $85MM extension. Hamels should earn more than Weaver, given his higher 2011 salary and proximity to free agency. 
  • Mets manager Terry Collins asked starter Mike Pelfrey if he'd be up for becoming the team's closer in 2012 and Pelfrey said he "absolutely" would, according to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. However, it's unlikely that Pelfrey will become the Mets' closer, since GM Sandy Alderson is opposed to the idea, Martino writes. Check out CloserNews.com for more on each team’s bullpen. 
  • Braves GM Frank Wren told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that he has focused on adding speed in recent years, bringing in players such as Jose Constanza and Michael Bourn.
  • Braves reliever Eric O'Flaherty switched agents and is now a client of Dan Lozano's Icon Sports Group, according to Yahoo's Tim Brown (on Twitter). Steve Canter formerly represented the left-hander, who will be arbitration eligible for the second time after the season. Keep track of each player's representation with MLBTR's Agency Database.

Rosenthal's Full Count: Cubs, Zimmerman, Minor, Rox, Span

Ken Rosenthal has his weekly Full Count Video up over at FOXSports.com, so let's take a look:

  • All GMs -- past, present, and prospective -- would love a crack at the Cubs' recent opening, says Rosenthal. Some GMs who are in their last contractual year, like Brian Cashman of the Yankees, line up better than others. Rosenthal feels the Rays might let Chicago interview Andrew Friedman, but finds it highly unlikely that the Red Sox would allow the Cubs to interview Theo Epstein, who is under contract through 2012.
  • While the Nationals have spent almost $40MM on the Amateur Draft in the past three seasons, Rosenthal says they'd be wise to check in with their first draft pick ever: Ryan Zimmerman. Zimmerman is controlled through 2013, but Rosenthal likens him to another prominent young star, saying that Zimmerman is to the Nats what Troy Tulowitzki is to the Rockies. He feels the Nats should approach their cornerstone about a similar extension before he gets so close to free agency that he considers testing it.
  • The Mets were far from the only team interested in Mike Minor at the July 31st trade deadline. The Indians offered the Drew Pomeranz to the Braves in exchange for Minor, thinking that with Atlanta trying to acquire Hunter Pence at the time, the Astros may prefer Pomeranz to Minor. Cleveland would get a more Major League-ready arm in return, but the Braves had no intention of dealing Minor.
  • The Rockies will look to add a big bat this winter, preferably at third base or a corner outfield spot. If they can find a third baseman despite a weak market, they may be inclined to pursue a leadoff hitter like the Twins' Denard Span. Rosenthal says the Rox have long coveted Span, and almost drafted him in 2002, but instead took Jeff Francis due to concerns over Span's asking price. Minnesota grabbed Span 11 picks later at No. 20 overall, though they showed a willingness to move him at this year's deadline when negotiating with the Nats.

NL East Notes: Harper, Zimmerman, Reyes, Phillies

The Nationals announced that Bryce Harper, last year's first overall pick, and right-hander Brad Peacock will represent Washington at the All-Star Futures Game (Twitter link). Here are some more notes from the NL East...

Draft Notes: Nationals, Bundy, Cardinals, Astros

Be sure to catch up on the results from the first and supplemental rounds of the draft. As we await day two of the big event, here's what you need to know:

  • ESPN.com's Keith Law lists the RaysTwins and D'Backs among his day one winners while questioning moves by the BravesRockies and others. High school outfielder Josh Bell heads Law's list of best remaining players.
  • Bell, Daniel Norris and Dillon Howard are the best players remaining according to MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo.
  • Anthony Rendon, Alex Meyer and Brian Goodwin, Washington's first three picks, are all Scott Boras clients, according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson. The Nationals have a history of selecting Boras clients, going back to first overall picks Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper.
  • Rendon plays the same position as Nationals cornerstone Ryan Zimmerman, but "the point of the draft is to take the best player available" regardless of the big league roster, Zimmerman told Ladson.
  • Top Orioles pick Dylan Bundy may be an especially difficult player to sign, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. “The numbers that were thrown out were true," Bundy said, without saying explicitly that he's looking for a $30MM bonus.
  • Cardinals scouting director Jeff Luhnow sounds confident that he'll be able to sign first rounder Kolten Wong before the August deadline for deals, according to MLB.com's Matthew Leach.
  • Red Sox GM Theo Epstein and scouting director Amiel Sawdaye broke down Boston's top four picks and Alex Speier of WEEI.com has the details. Epstein says he thought some things broke Boston's way.
  • Stephen Goff of the Houston Astros Examiner gets the sense that Astros' amateur scouting director Bobby Heck will take a pitcher with the 69th overall selection (Twitter link).

Quick Hits: Minaya, Weaver, Danks, Zimmerman

Emilio "Millito" Navarro, believed to be the oldest living professional baseball player at 105, passed away in Puerto Rico today. The former Negro Leaguer also played in the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico during his career. Our condolences go out to his family.

  • Paul Hoynes of The Cleveland Plain-Dealer reports that former Mets GM Omar Minaya has spent the past two days on a "friendly visit" with Indians GM Chris Antonetti, president Mark Shapiro, and manager Manny Acta. Cleveland interviewed former Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes during the offseason, and Hoynes says Antonetti has "made [it] no secret that he'd like to add the right person to the front office."
  • While researching the impending free agency of young stars, SI's Jon Heyman (via Twitter) learned that we can count on Jered Weaver and John Danks filing after 2012.
  • It's been a bad day for star third basemen, writes Justin Sablich of the New York Times.  The Giants lost Pablo Sandoval for 4-6 weeks with a broken bone in his right wrist and the Nationals announced that Ryan Zimmerman, who has been on the disabled list since April 12, will miss at least an another six weeks.  If both players return within those timeframes, it's unlikely that either squad will look for an out-of-house fill-in.
  • Matt Klaassen of Fangraphs questions the Blue Jays' wisdom in demoting Travis Snider to work on his hitting after just 99 plate appearances in 2011.

Who Could Get The Next Mega-Extension?

In extending Ryan Braun and Troy Tulowitzki through the year 2020, the Brewers and Rockies made bold commitments to their young stars by adding multiyear extensions on top of pre-existing contracts that already covered both men through 2015 and 2014, respectively. 

Are these deals risky?  Absolutely, but the contracts represent the latest step in how clubs attempt to lock up their young stars.  It isn't enough to just gain cost-certainty on a player through his arbitration and first few free agent years.  If a team feels they have a true franchise player, it won't hesitate to sign that player to what essentially could be a lifetime contract in order to (hopefully) avoid spending even more money to re-sign that player or a comparable star as a free agent.

Should other clubs look to explore this tactic of extending an extension, here are some of the possible candidates to join Braun and Tulowitzki in the "2020" club.

  • Evan Longoria.  We start off with the man with arguably the most team-friendly extension in baseball history.  Longoria's six-year, $17.5MM contract signed in April 2008 contains three team option years (worth $7.5MM, $11MM and $11.5MM, respectively) that could keep him in Tampa Bay through 2016, his age-29 season.  As MLBTR's Mike Axisa pointed out over the winter, however, the Rays' uncertain financial situation makes it unlikely that they would make an even longer commitment to Longoria than they already have. 
  • Robinson Cano.  Cano signed a four-year, $30MM extension before the 2008 season that also includes team option years for 2012 ($14MM) and 2013 ($15MM).  New York will obviously keep Cano in the fold through his age-30 season by picking up those two options, unless those years get replaced by a longer-term contract.  Cano hired Scott Boras as his agent in February and while Cano said he isn't planning to ask for an extension before his current deal expires, the second baseman is clearly already thinking ahead.
  • Justin Upton.  The first overall pick of the already-legendary 2005 draft is signed through 2015 on a six-year, $51.25MM extension that will run out when he's 28 years old and right in the middle of his prime years.  The Diamondbacks explored a few deals for Upton over the winter and set off a flurry of speculation, but it appears as if GM Kevin Towers was simply doing his due diligence to see if another team would go overboard with a trade offer.  Upton had a slightly disappointing (.799 OPS) 2010 season, so Arizona might wait for at least one more superstar campaign from their young star to make sure he's worth the risk of another multiyear extension.
  • Hanley Ramirez.  It seems odd to think of the Marlins doling out any major extensions, let alone two to the same player.  With the team moving into its new Miami ballpark next year, though, the extra revenue could make another multiyear deal for Ramirez into a reality -- not to mention generating some goodwill amongst Marlins fans to get them to spring for season tickets. Ramirez is under contract through 2014 on a six-year, $70MM deal and 2015 will be his age-31 season.  If Florida did explore an extension for Ramirez, they would surely have to factor in a move away from shortstop, since his defensive woes (a career -9.4 UZR/150) are likely to worsen as he ages.
  • Ryan ZimmermanMLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith recently outlined how the Nationals' previous extension with Zimmerman -- a five-year, $45MM pact that runs through 2013 -- was a terrific bargain for the club.  Given Zimmerman's production, age (he'll be 29 when his deal runs out) and Washington's willingness to spend, Zimmerman is probably the most likely player on this list to receive a Braun/Tulowitzki-esque deal.
  • Joey Votto.  The Reds took the first step towards locking up the reigning NL MVP when they signed Votto to a three-year, $38MM pact that covered the first baseman's arbitration years.  Votto is still on pace to hit free agency as a 30-year-old in his prime, and as one agent put it, "the Reds took on all the risk" with this initial deal.  Cincinnati has put itself in position to contend over the next few seasons, so that will theoretically take care of the Great American Ballpark's attendance problems and make it possible for the team to get Votto signed to an even longer-term contract.
  • Miguel Cabrera.  Cabrera signed an eight-year, $152.3MM extension with the Tigers before the 2008 season.  He'll turn 33 in 2016, and that advanced age plus his off-the-field issues make him an unlikely extension candidate.  Detroit has the money and Cabrera has put up Cooperstown-worthy numbers throughout his career, but there just may be too much risk involved for the Tigers to commit more money to the slugger.

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