Throughout last season there were various reports about Ryan Zimmerman and the Nationals having contract extension discussions and Bill Ladson of MLB.com reports that the two sides are still talking about a long-term deal.
Zimmerman has two years and $26 million remaining on his current five-year, $45 million contract, so there’s no huge rush for the Nationals to get something done, but they just gave Gio Gonzalez a five-year, $42 million extension despite already having him under control through 2015 and Zimmerman has repeatedly said he wants to play his entire career in Washington.
Of course, Zimmerman also missed 61 games last season with an abdominal tear and hit a good but not great .289 with a .798 OPS when healthy enough to play. When healthy Zimmerman is an excellent all-around player and one of the top handful of third basemen in baseball at age 27, so it would presumably take a deal in excess of $100 million to keep him around past 2013. And knowing agents, he’ll probably ask for more than the $126 million Jayson Werth got from the Nationals last winter.
The Astros and Nationals share a spring training facility, so it was only natural that they would open Grapefruit League play together. The Astros were the home team. Here’s the lineup they rolled out.
Teams typically include at least a few regulars in their spring training lineups as a courtesy to the fans, who are spending money to see big league players play baseball. This is especially the case for home games. However, the Astros have decided to roll out a lineup with a combined 323 MLB plate appearances.
There might be a reason for that. Houston was lustily booed as they took the field. This was after running a video on the scoreboard celebrating their 2019 AL championship.
That’s all with the team that beat them in the World Series (and is widely regarded as baseball’s current heroes for beating the big bad cheating Astros) in the other dugout, of course. Nationals starter Max Scherzer has not thrown at any Houston player, and the game is now in a rain delay. But it seems like the Astros decided to spare their players from some possible rough treatment, both from fans and opposing pitchers.
The same could not be said for Astros mascot Orbit, who was also booed.
One can quibble with the merits of booing a bunch of players who have barely touched the big leagues because you’re mad at Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, but sports fandom is something of an irrational business. Fans are going to want their pound of flesh, especially when they paid for the right to be in the ballpark and give the Astros a piece of their mind. Some of them even brought props! This is just how it all works, unfortunately. If you’re in an Astros uniform, you’re probably going to get booed.
Welcome to the 2020 season, Astros. It’s probably going to be like this all year.