Ryan Zimmerman and the Nationals have been engaged in some level of long-term contract talks for going on a year now, but yesterday the third baseman told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post that he’ll cut off negotiations once spring training starts:
I think it’s unfair to my teammates for that to garner any attention during the season. Once spring training comes, it’s time for us to play baseball. If there’s articles, or if there’s people asking me everyday how much money I want to make, that’s rather unfair to the other guys around me who are working just as hard to achieve that goal of winning. It’s got to get done by spring training.
All of that is nice, and as an added bonus setting a deadline also won’t hurt Zimmerman’s leverage.
That gives the Nationals less than a month to get something done–and they can use the money earmarked for Prince Fielder–although Zimmerman is under team control for 2012 and 2013 at a total of $27 million. He’s also said repeatedly that he wants to play his entire career in Washington, adding that he’s “willing to try and be creative” with a deal. Whatever that means.
This is more significant for basketball fans than baseball fans, but Magic Johnson is taking over basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers. Dan Feldman over at PBT has the full story on that.
For our purposes, you probably know that Johnson is part of the Dodgers ownership group. Anthony McCullough of the L.A. Times got comment from the Dodgers, saying that despite his new full-time job, his status with the Dodgers will be unchanged:
Maybe I’m alone in this, but I’m not entirely certain what Magic does with the Lakers, so the first clause in Kasten’s comment may be doing most of the heavy lifting here.
Jon Heyman reports that the Nationals are closing in on a deal with catcher Matt Wieters. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that it’s a two-year deal. UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal reports that the deal is for two years, at $21 million. There is an opt-out for him after year one. He will get $10 million in 2017 and, if he returns in 2018, he’ll get $11 million.
Wieters was not expected to go this long without signing, but his market, which many thought would be robust, never materialized. The Nats had been rumored to be interested for months, but they were apparently waiting to swoop in late and get what one presumes will be a bargain.
Wieters, 30, finished last season hitting .243/.302/.409 with 17 home runs and 66 RBI in 464 plate appearances. The Nationals currently have Derek Norris and Jose Lobaton, so who falls where in the catcher fight in Washington is unclear, but one presumes that Wieters getting a two-year deal puts him at the top of the depth chart.