Hoping to remain a Nat, Zim wants no-trade
Third baseman attempting to complete new deal by Saturday
VIERA, Fla. -- Although he has two years left on his current contract, third baseman Ryan Zimmerman hinted that he would like a no-trade clause and said that he is interested in spending the rest of his career with the Nationals.
Zimmerman spoke to general manager Mike Rizzo on Friday, but the conversation was about Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun, who won his appeal of a 50-game suspension on Thursday.
Zimmerman said he doesn't want to discuss a new deal after Saturday morning at 10 a.m. ET, because he doesn't want to become a distraction to the team. The Nationals have their first full-squad workout at that time.
. ESPN's Tim Kurkjian reported on Friday morning that Zimmerman was close to a contract extension with the Nationals, but Zimmerman denied the report when asked.
Asked if he felt he would get a deal done by Saturday morning, Zimmerman said, "There are still things that need to be worked on both sides. We need to do some stuff, they need to do some stuff. We'll see. ... I think we have come a long way from back where we started, so you never know."
Zimmerman's agent, Brodie Van Wagenen, was seen talking to Rizzo at the Nationals' Spring Training complex on Wednesday. The two sides also met on Thursday afternoon without coming close to a deal. The two sides were expected to talk on the phone Friday afternoon.
"I'm the same, like I was before," said Zimmerman, who was asked on Friday morning if he was close to an extension.
Van Wagenen left Viera on Thursday night. However, there is still a 24-hour window to get a deal completed. If not, look for Zimmerman to play out the rest of his current contract.
Zimmerman is coming off an injury-plagued 2011 season in which he hit .289 with 12 home runs and 49 RBIs across 101 games. He missed significant time because of an abdominal injury.
"The big things have to be taken care of -- the money, that kind of stuff, the big part of the contract," Zimmerman said. "There are obviously little things and language that take a little bit longer to be taken care of. But if we can get most of the big things done by Saturday, I don't have to sign the contract by Saturday. We have to have the pressing issues [finalized]. That needs to be done by Saturday.
"The point of me signing this deal is to be here, not to sign a deal that is team-friendly, to have it with another team. That's the whole point of the deal."
Manager Davey Johnson jokingly said he would postpone workouts on Saturday in order to get Zimmerman's deal finalized.
"He is the franchise player. He is the best player. He is the three-hole hitter. He is the leader of the infield. He is all of the above," Johnson said. "I think he wants to stay here. I think everybody wants him to stay here."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.