The Washington Nationals had seven arbitration cases this offseason and, with spring training approaching, they have just one left to settle. Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann and the Nationals have yet to come to terms on a salary for the 2013 season and, if they cannot, they’ll go to an arbitration hearing in the next few weeks where an arbiter will either select the team’s $4.6 million offer or Zimmermann’s $5.8 million counter.
“We’re kind of hung up right now,” Zimmermann said Saturday, with both he and general manager Mike Rizzo reiterating their desire to reach an agreement without going to a hearing.
“We’ll see what happens, but we definitely want to get this deal done and move on.”
“We’d like to sort it out before the hearing,” Rizzo said. “We’re still talking and negotiating. Unfortunately, in arbitration, other teams affect what happens with your case and with Zimmermann’s class of pitchers, we’re waiting to see where we’re going to be at with him.”
The hearings will begin baseball-wide on Feb. 4 and run through Feb. 20. If an agreement is not reached before that, Zimmermann’s hearing could be anytime in there — and teams can settle up until the moment they enter the hearing room.
But Zimmermann, along with shortstop Ian Desmond, also present two of the most likely candidates for the Nationals to pursue some type of multi-year contract with as they go through the arbitration process. Desmond settled with the Nationals on a one-year, $3.8 million deal in his first year of arbitration. Zimmermann, a Super 2 player, was in the second of his four years of arbitration.
For Zimmermann’s part, though, it sounds like a multi-year contract won’t be something either side tackles until this year’s salary has been determined.
“I would be interested,” said Zimmermann, who is enjoying going through the process to this point and said he likes being kept in the loop by his agents at SFX about where the talks are at. “Obviously we have to get the one-year deal done first. If the multi-year deal comes and it’s the right deal, we’ll take it, but if not, we’ll definitely wait.”
The Nationals briefly approached Zimmermann about a multi-year deal after the 2011 season, but they don’t appear to have broached the topic recently Rizzo seemed to echo Zimmermann’s sentiment, saying that unless those types of talks are “well underway” before the arbitration process begins, it’s easier to sort out the one-year salary before moving on to any type of extension or multi-year deal.
In that regard, the Nationals may be in a similar position with Desmond, who is coming off a breakout season. He too has been approached previously about a potential multi-year contract, and he too seemed content not to rush into anything.
“(The arbitration process) was a great experience for me to see the Nationals, the way they work,” Desmond said Saturday. “I’m fortunate to play in an organization where they’re doing things, in my eyes, the right way. I think they want to build form within but they’re not afraid to go out and bring players in from the outside as well.
“Obviously I have no intention of leaving Washington D.C. I think this is a place where I’ve been since Day One, but obviously this is a business. As we get there, we’ll cross that bridge. As of right now, I’m happy with where I’m at. I got the contract that I wanted and we’re going to see how it all unfolds.”