Nationals and Ryan Zimmerman are “close to a resolution” on contract extension

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UPDATE: Apparently general manager Mike Rizzo wasn’t kidding about “working extremely hard” on an extension with Zimmerman, because Bill Ladson of MLB.com reports that the two sides are “close to a resolution.”

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Ryan Zimmerman has said that he won’t negotiate a long-term contract extension once spring training is over, so the Nationals are making a strong push to get something done before then.

General manager Mike Rizzo told Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com that “we’re working extremely hard at it, and both teams want something and are working at it.”

Rizzo added that he’s “hopeful” about an agreement being reached, although with Zimmerman under team control for 2012 and 2013 at a total cost of $27 million the Opening Day deadline doesn’t carry quite as much weight as it would if he were 162 games away from free agency.

If they can’t reach a deal now the Nationals can always give it another try next winter, although if Zimmerman stays healthy and has a big season the leverage and price tags might be very different.

Cubs to activate Craig Kimbrel on Thursday

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The Cubs will activate reliever Craig Kimbrel ahead of Thursday afternoon’s game against the Braves, Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic reports.

Kimbrel, 31, ended a seven-month stint in free agency, agreeing to a three-year, $43 million contract with the Cubs earlier this month. He has made four minor league appearances, allowing one earned run on two hits and a walk with four strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings.

With an aggregate 3.96 ERA entering Wednesday, the Cubs’ bullpen has been among the better bullpens in the league. Adding Kimbrel, one of the greatest closers of all-time, certainly can’t hurt and will give them some stability in save situations.