Monday, April 20, 2009

Ryan Zimmerman Extension: Good or Bad?

Lots of Nationals talk here lately, and I for one, am loving it. There is nothing better than a 1-11 club getting all the pub.

Anyway, for those who missed it, the Nationals have locked up third baseman Ryan Zimmerman to a 5 year/$45 million dollar extension.

The fantastic David Pinto, from, weighs in:
Washington may be stuck with him, too. I’m just not that high on his offense, as he’s failed to build on his rookie season at an age when players should be improving. He is a good defender, but he gets a huge boost from one great defensive year. Given the price of players today, the contract seems appropriate given what he’s accomplished, but I would like to see a season where his offensive numbers improve before I lay out the big bucks. Zimmerman strikes me as the kind of player I’d wait a year on before going long term.
While I respect Pinto's opinion and completely understand it, I'm going to take the other side here.

If there was ever a time for the Nationals to sign Zimmerman to a team friendly contract, now was the time. Zimmerman is coming off an injury plagued season where the buzz surrounding him dissipated from "the next David Wright" to "let's hope to the baseball Gods that Zimmerman reaches his potential. If Zimmerman has a great season in 2009, then there is no doubt that Zimmerman's price tag would have gone up, probably closer to the Nick Markakis 6 year/$66 million dollar contract.

At worst, the Nationals have locked up a very good player and a possible rising star for a more than reasonable price. Zimmerman is a very valuable and useful building block to have on board. Is Zimmerman a franchise player? Right now, no; but Zimmerman, almost by default, is the Nationals franchise player.

Considering how much of a mess the Nationals are, this move brings some stability to management, now knowing that a possible Zimmerman extension does not have to be held over their heads.

In addition, Zimmerman is one of the few guys the Nationals have, who the fans actually want to come and see. For better or worse, Zimmerman is the face of the franchise and they have little else besides Zimmerman to get excited about (other than Strasburg!). Having Zimmerman around for the near future gives fans at least some glimmer of hope that better days are ahead and that talented Nationals will stay in Washington.

And finally, what good young player actually wants to be with the Nationals these days? By my count, the answer is only one: Zimmerman.


tHeMARksMiTh said...

I'm torn. On one hand, he really hasn't earned that contract. But on the other, he's still only 24, and it's not unreasonable that he will be a good young player. The problem has been that he has been afforded little other help around him, putting a lot of pressure on him, so let's see how he does over a full season with Dunn. I think I would have waited and paid him a bit more, though.

And for the record, Markakis is a much surer thing than Zimmerman. The difference between the contracts may have been 1-2 million a year. When you're not spending it elsewhere, it's okay.

tHeMARksMiTh said...

FanGraphs thinks the deal is a good one.