Feb 14, 2012, 12:00 PM EDT
US Presswire file photo
Ryan Zimmerman has been the face of the franchise since he was drafted in 2005.
With pitchers and catchers due to report Sunday, we've reached the home stretch of the offseason. All week, we'll count down the five biggest storylines facing the Nationals at spring training. Today, it's storyline No. 4: A possible long-term contract extension for Ryan Zimmerman…
It has only been 34 months since Ryan Zimmerman and the Nationals last agreed to a long-term contract, the five-year, $45 million deal that ensured the face of the franchise would continue to hold that title into the prime of his career.
So why worry about his next contract already, with Zimmerman unable to become a free agent for another two years?
Because that's the way baseball works, and the time to lock up marquee players is right now, before they get too close to free agency.
Clubs that let their top stars reach the final year of their contracts take an awfully big risk. And as we've seen lately, they often wind up losing their man. Just ask the Cardinals if they wish they had locked up Albert Pujols two years ago, and the Brewers if they wish they had done something to keep Prince Fielder.
So 2012 figures to be an important year for the Nationals in their quest to keep Zimmerman in a curly W cap for the rest of his career. And, ifRead more »
NL EAST STANDINGS
x-Clinched division title
FRI: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Marlins, 1:10 p.m.
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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