(Please put aside the lame showing by the Journal yesterday. And please note that it did not affect the coverage of the Nationals in the actual ink-and-paper product (just $.35). I'm not supposed to be posting on the weekend, so consider this bonus Journal coverage.)
The Nationals renewed Ryan Zimmerman's contract this morning. He'll make $400,000 -- which is $2,000 less than Hanley Ramirez, who won Rookie of the Year over Zimmerman in one of the closest votes ever.
Let's be clear: The Nationals are under no obligation to sign Zimmerman to a multi-year contract. He isn't eligible for arbitration until after the 2008 season, and after three years of arbitration, he'd be eligible for free agency following 2011. He's going to be a National for a long time.
But I think this is one of those situations where you can believe the sentiment both the club and the player are expressing: They're happy with each other. A multi-year deal, at this time, would've been a bonus for both sides. And it absolutely could still get done in the next year or so. The benchmark: David Wright's six-year, $55-million deal signed last August.
The issues: Signing Zimmerman to a long-term deal now represents a significant commitment/risk on the part of the club. If he gets hurt, they're on the hook for potentially tens of millions of dollars that won't pay off. For Zimmerman, the risk is a bit less: Of course, if he continues on his current pace, he could become a very rich man through the arbitration process. But the long-term deal would give him security regardless of performance or health. He would probably be willing to sign for slightly "under market" in exchange for security.
Both sides profess to be happy and willing to work with each other in the future.
Zimm: "There's nothing bad."
GM Jim Bowden: "We have a very good relationship with the player, and we have a very good relationship with his agent."
All the Nationals are now signed. The Mets are coming to town today. They're bringing a vagabond cast of characters. The Nationals will counter with a pretty regular crew, as most of the starters had the day off for yesterday's trip to Lauderdale.
Lopez -- 2B
Guzman -- DH
Zimmerman -- 3B
Kearns -- RF
Schneider -- C
Snelling -- LF
Lee -- 1B
Wilson -- SS
Logan -- CF
And the pitching derby continues with Tim Redding followed by Jerome Williams. This is a big day for both of them.
Other news: Guzman played five innings in the field yesterday in the "B" game. He'll do the same again tomorrow, have a day off, and potentially be ready to play the field in the Nationals' next game after that, which would be Wednesday.
I'm only going to post in-game updates if you folks tell me you want them (and if my guilt about not posting very much yesterday catches up to me, which is unlikely).
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