Negotiations on Ryan Zimmerman's contract have been put off until the offseason as the Nats third basemen and the club could not come to a deal before opening day. The 24-year-old Zimmerman decided to postpone negotiations, as he did not want to be a distraction to the team.
The Nats have been trying to lock up their franchise hot-corner for the last three years ever since he posted a .283 batting average with 20 homers and 110 RBI's in his sophomore campaign. However since this campaign, the negotiations, as well as his career, have taken an unstable turn.
In 2007 Zimmerman disappointed and took a slight step back batting only .266 with a sub par .788 OPS. His power numbers increased but his overall patience and totals did not make the expected progression for a 23 year old. 2008 again fell to disappointment as the Nats young star missed a third of the season due to injuries.
Now the 24-year-old UVA Alum wants to get paid like the star he has been purported to become, not the output he has produced. Initial comparisons were immediately drawn at the beginning of his career to Mets third basemen David Wright. The two were both the same age, same position, grew up in the same town, played on the same AAU team, played in the same division and broke into the majors at the same time. So when in 2006 Wright signed a deal for six years worth $55 million, it seemed only natural that his counterpart would get a very similar deal.
Things changed. Clearly we can see that these two players careers have taken drastically different paths. One is a perennial All-Star and MVP candidate, the other is still waiting to take the next step. This of course could be because one plays for a competitive New York team and the other plays for what is essentially an expansion team. But numbers don't lie:
David Wrights Career:
2005-.306/.388/.523, 27 HR, 102 RBI, 17 SB
2006- 311/.381/.531, 26 HR, 116 RBI, 20 SB
2007-.325/.416/.546, 30 HR, 107 RBI, 34 SB
2008-.302/.390/.534, 33 HR, 124 RBI, 15 SB
Ryan Zimmerman's Career:
2006- 287/.351/.471, 20 HR, 110 RBI, 11 SB
2007-.266/.330/,458, 24 HR, 91 RBI, 4 SB
2008-.283/.333/442, 14 HR, 51 RBI, 1 SB
Another important factor working against Zimmerman is that the market has severely changed since Wrights 2006 contract. While once the trend was for young prospects to sign long term deals for near hundred million dollar contracts, today young players are signing slightly shorter, less impactful deals.
Ryan Braun signed an 8 year $45 million extension in 2008 following arguably the greatest rookie season since Albert Pujols. Hanley Ramirez, who many consider the best talent in baseball, signed a six year 70 million dollar contract at the age of 23. These two players are far more established unfortunately than our own Ryan Zimmerman.
It looks like for RZimm that he may be needing to consider a deal more like the one that former rookie of the year Troy Tuluwitzki inked after leading the Rockies to the World Series in 2007, six years $31 million. According to Nationals.com however, it is reported that Zimmerman may want something larger.
Reasons to give him more:
-The team desperately needs a face of the franchise
-He is young, exciting with the glove, and hits dramatic home runs
-People wan't to believe he's Cal Ripken
-We actually have our hands on him, something that isn't yet easy to do with free agents.
-He isn't any of the players listed above.
-He probably won't ever be.
-He hasn't shown consistency or durability in recent years
-He's a UVA popped collar kinda guy