Ryan Zimmerman on track to return from disabled list next Friday

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Ryan Zimmerman was placed on the disabled list last weekend due to a sore left hamstring, but he’s already nearing his return to game action.

Nationals manager Davey Johnson told Chase Hughes of CSNWashington.com this morning that Zimmerman will likely begin a minor league rehab assignment on Monday. While the Nationals haven’t announced which affiliate he’ll play with, High-A Potomac is the most logical destination. Barring any setbacks, the hope is that he’ll be activated when he’s first eligible next Friday against the Pirates in Pittsburgh.

According to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, Zimmerman played catch, fielded ground balls and ran the bases this morning at Nationals Park during a workout with trainer Steve Gober and bench coach Randy Knorr. His throwing was an issue prior to the hamstring injury and it’s apparently still a work in progress, as Kilgore notes that “some of Zimmerman’s throws hit Gober in the chest; some skipped by him or flew to the short fence behind him.”

The Nationals called up top prospect Anthony Rendon when Zimmerman was placed on the disabled list, but he’ll likely head back down the minors next Friday.

The Nationals expect Bryce Harper to test free agency

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Earlier this week at the Winter Meetings, Scott Boras said that he and the Washington Nationals had had preliminary discussions about a contract extension for Bryce Harper. Harper, of course, can become a free agent following the 2018 season and is widely expected to command the largest contract in baseball history.

While that may have given some Nationals fans hope that no other team would get the chance to bid on him, the Nationals are of the view that they have no shot to sign Harper before he at least tests the free agent market. From USA Today’s Bob Nightengale:

A lot of this seems like mutual posturing, doesn’t it? Boras trying to make it appear as though the he and Harper are giving the Nats a fair hearing and the Nats trying to make it appear as though, no matter what they do, Harper is going to hit the market. I tend to believe, personally, that Boras and Harper are hellbent on testing the market, but it’s possible that there is some number that the Nats can offer to head that off, right? Maybe?

Either way: big year ahead for Harper.