The Nationals and GM Mike Rizzo have taken their share of criticism for bidding aggressively on Jayson Werth and signing him to a free agent contract worth $126MM. Back in 2009, six weeks after taking over in Washington, Rizzo, then the interim GM, signed an equally important player to a long-term contract that's now looking like a fantastic deal for the team.
Ryan Zimmerman signed a five-year, $45MM deal two years ago this month and though his reasons for accepting the deal – guaranteed money, an extended stay with an organization he likes – are understandable, the Nationals are set to save $14MM or more in 2012-13, Zimmerman's age 27 and 28 seasons.
If he hadn't signed the exension two years ago, Zimmerman would have hit free agency after the 2011 season as a 27-year-old. He’s now on the disabled list (for just the second time in his career) with a left abdominal strain, but that wouldn’t have stopped teams from bidding on him if he had hit the open market after the season. Zimmerman and Prince Fielder would have been the best free agent position players available other than Albert Pujols.
A $20MM annual salary on a long-term deal would have been possible for the third baseman and his agents at CAA. Instead, the Nationals will pay Zimmerman $12MM in 2012 and $14MM in 2013. They have always been aggressive with Zimmerman, promoting him to the majors just 85 days and 269 minor league plate appearances after being drafted. It paid off with a sizzling cameo in 2005, a productive rookie season in 2006 and a shrewd contract extension in 2009.
The only players with more wins above replacement than Zimmerman since he became an everyday player in 2006 are perennial All-Stars and, in many cases, Hall of Fame candidates: Pujols, Chase Utley, Matt Holliday, David Wright, Alex Rodriguez, Hanley Ramirez, Miguel Cabrera and Joe Mauer. Zimmerman, a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner, has a career mark of 13.1 UZR/150 and a .289/.356/.485 batting line, testaments to his well-rounded game.
He said last month that he would like to stay in Washington and is open to extending his stay in D.C. once again. This time, the Nationals might not be able to secure free agent years for south of $20MM, but that doesn't change the fact that his current deal has been a success for them so far and promises to be even better in 2012-13.
where the longoria commenter saying Z should sit out till he gets a new contract too
He’s from Virginia, wants to stay in DC and means it when he says that money isn’t everything. As long as the Nationals continue to improve, they will pay him what he’s worth and could end up like Brooks Robinson, a Gold Glove Hall of Famer who ends up playing for just one team in his career.
I hope so. I’m not a Nats fan (pathetic Royals fan here), but I miss the days when superstars stayed with one team most of their careers. (see: Brett, George)
The most underrated player in baseball.
It’s a crime that he consistently loses out to David Wright to go to the All-Star game.
I love Zimmerman. The guy is a stud in hitting and fielding, and he has yet to get the credit he deserves. Evidence of this: Hawk Harrelson said on the broadcast for the Sox game yesterday that, “Outside of Dunn, Josh Willingham was Washington’s best hitter.” Made me throw up, and furthered my dislike of Hawk.
But good ole Hawk could tell you what a “can of corn” is…catchphrases are more his style. And you can put that on the board…Yes!
Really like your name
Thank you, I wish we all could just go the extra yard to save the planet…
I just wanted to comment that I LOVE stories like this, looking back at extensions, free agent contracts, trades, etc. a couple of years after they were consummated. It’s always fun to see if perception of the deal at the time turned into reality years down the road.
Glad you like them!
Every bit as good as Longoria with nowhere near the hype.
I wonder if Zim would take a discount if he got to throw to Albert Pujols? I wonder if he’d “Chip in” on the $25×10 it will take to sign Pujols.
Does anyone have concerns about Zim’s swing? It appears to be getting longer and more violent, all while he is adding a wider open stance and higher front foot step to his swing. It leads to some prodigious HRs (see the HR he hit in FLA last year that broke the score board), but I am concerned that swings like that don’t age well. Granted he is having a lot of success with this now, but you know… Maybe I am crazy and I am clearly not a professional scout (or even amateur for that matter), but it seems like all the best hitters in baseball have much much simpler approaches to their ABs than Zim.