Ryan Zimmerman is signed through 2013, so there’s no huge rush to work on an extension, but Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post writes that his “representative has remained in constant dialogue with the Nationals for the past year.”
Missing two months with a torn abdominal muscle kept talks from picking up, but Zimmerman has hit .363 with a .933 OPS in his last 35 games and has made it clear that he wants to remain in Washington well beyond 2013.
“I have faith that we’ll be able to do something here,” Zimmerman told Kilgore. “I think we’ve had a really good relationship the whole time. I feel like the front-office people enjoy having me here, and I want to be here. I love the fans, I love everyone here. It’s one of those things that I think will work out in the end.”
Zimmerman’s current deal is for $45 million over five seasons and sets him up to hit the open market at age 29, so the next contract will be a huge one whether it comes from the Nationals or another team. Or as Zimmerman put it: “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. This one, it’ll have to be longer than the one I signed before.”
Kilgore points to Troy Tulowitzki’s 10-year, $158 million extension with the Rockies and Ryan Braun’s 10-year, $146 million extension with the Brewers as possible comps for Zimmerman, who’s closer to free agency than they were at the time of those deals. He’s not quite at their levels in terms of being a household name, but despite missing a big chunk of this season Zimmerman ranks 11th among all position players in Wins Above Replacement since the beginning of 2009, sandwiched between Miguel Cabrera and Dustin Pedroia (and slightly ahead of Braun).
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.