Ryan Zimmerman and Nationals still discussing contract extension

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UPDATE: Rizzo told Zuckerman that “enough progress has been made” to where there’s a belief that a deal will be finalized at some point Saturday night or early Sunday morning.

10:57 PM: Zimmerman said in an emailed statement late Saturday night that he’s “confident” about reaching an agreement with the Nationals. It’s not known whether that means the deadline has been extended.

1:16 PM: According to Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com, Ryan Zimmerman just said that negotiations with the Nationals are ongoing. His camp proposed a “creative” solution to help bridge the gap and Zimmerman expects resolution “one way or the other” by the end of today. He also indicated that a no-trade clause remains one of the sticking points.

12:05 PM: Ryan Zimmerman hoped to have a contract extension wrapped up with the Nationals before the team’s first full-squad workout at 10 a.m. this morning, but his self-imposed deadline has passed without news of a deal.

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said “no,” in response to Pete Kerzel of MASNSports.com earlier this morning when asked if there was anything new to report in regards to an extension. Meanwhile, Zimmerman told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post that he had heard no update.

Zimmerman is due to make $12 million this season and $14 million in 2013 before hitting free agency. He said yesterday that he is willing to sign a “team-friendly” deal, but reportedly wants a no-trade clause included in the contract.

Zimmerman has indicated that he would like to cut talks off today so that his situation doesn’t become a distraction, but Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com suggests that something could still get done in the near future, even if there’s no announcement of a deal today. As Zuckerman notes, the 27-year-old third baseman signed a five-year, $45 million extension in April of 2009 just weeks after saying he would hold off on talks until after the season.

No one pounds the zone anymore

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“Work fast and throw strikes” has long been the top conventional wisdom for those preaching pitching success. The “work fast” part of that has increasingly gone by the wayside, however, as pitchers take more and more time to throw pitches in an effort to max out their effort and, thus, their velocity with each pitch.

Now, as Ben Lindbergh of The Ringer reports, the “throw strikes” part of it is going out of style too:

Pitchers are throwing fewer pitches inside the strike zone than ever previously recorded . . . A decade ago, more than half of all pitches ended up in the strike zone. Today, that rate has fallen below 47 percent.

There are a couple of reasons for this. Most notable among them, Lindbergh says, being pitchers’ increasing reliance on curves, sliders and splitters as primary pitches, with said pitches not being in the zone by design. Lindbergh doesn’t mention it, but I’d guess that an increased emphasis on catchers’ framing plays a role too, with teams increasingly selecting for catchers who can turn balls that are actually out of the zone into strikes. If you have one of those beasts, why bother throwing something directly over the plate?

There is an unintended downside to all of this: a lack of action. As Lindbergh notes — and as you’ve not doubt noticed while watching games — there are more walks and strikeouts, there is more weak contact from guys chasing bad pitches and, as a result, games and at bats are going longer.

As always, such insights are interesting. As is so often the case these days, however, such insights serve as an unpleasant reminder of why the on-field product is so unsatisfying in so many ways in recent years.