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.