The Nationals have not re-started extension talks with righty Jordan Zimmermann since they broke off last winter, James Wagner of the Washington Post reports. The homegrown star says that he still hopes to stay with the team in the long run and remains interested in an extension — “if the deal is right.”
“I like D.C.,” he said. “I like the ownership. I like the manager, the coaches. I like everything about D.C. It’s just a waiting game right now to see what happens.”
While recent reports suggested that Zimmermann had rejected a five-year, $85MM offer last year, Wagner reports that the actual offer is believed to have been lower. As he also notes, the Homer Bailey deal (five years, $105MM) would appear to set a practical starting point, as Zimmerman has a better track record than the Reds hurler.
Meanwhile, the club has informed competitors that it is willing to deal Zimmermann and fellow righty Doug Fister in the right scenarios, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports (Twitter links). Fister, like his compatriot, is poised to hit free agency after the coming season.
Of course, Rizzo has emphasized in the past that he will listen to proposals on any player, and in that regard this report does not appear to change the club’s stance. But the notion that the Nationals have told other clubs of an openness to fielding trade proposals could, potentially be an added development.
With a roster that puts the organization firmly in contention mode, it will surely take a big offer to pry either arm loose. Indeed, per Nightengale, the Nats will not move Zimmermann for less than a “strong return,” and will not pursue a deal simply to shed salary.
It is worth recalling that we previously heard more specific rumors involving Zimmermann, though those were quickly shot down. But in concept, the idea of a trade is not as far-fetched as it might seem at first glance. As I explained a few weeks back in my outlook for the Nats, it makes eminent sense for the club to at least dangle both starters to see if an overwhelming return — particularly, one that can fill a current need (most likely, second base) while delivering future value — can be found.
Of course, payroll flexibility always must be considered. Though Nationals GM Mike Rizzo told me at the GM Meetings that the organization is not feeling the pinch, every team has its limits. Zimmermann is earning $16.5MM in the second half of his backloaded, two-year deal from last season, while Fister is projected by MLBTR/Matt Swartz to take home $11.4MM through arbitration.
Replacing the production of one of those outstanding performers would no doubt be difficult, and the Nationals unquestionably hope to put another World Series-contending club on the field next year. But there are plenty of internal options, and the free agent market is plentiful. In past seasons, Rizzo has looked to high-upside rebound candidates; how he would act in a post-deal scenario is anyone’s guess, but would likely be opportunity-driven.