Feb 18, 2014, 9:58 AM EDT
VIERA, Fla. — Much as he’d like to keep his mind off it, Jordan Zimmermann couldn’t help but notice the dollar figures being thrown around to fellow pitchers this winter.
Adam Wainwright: $97.5 million. Homer Bailey: $100 million. Masahiro Tanaka: $155 million. And the mother of all mega-extensions for a big-league pitcher: $215 million to Clayton Kershaw.
So don’t blame Zimmermann for recognizing he could be on the cusp of his own jaw-dropping deal.
“I mean, it’s hard not to pay attention when it’s on the bottom line on ESPN and all over the place,” the Nationals right-hander said Tuesday morning. “There’s a lot of money in this game. Hopefully I can keep pitching well for the next two years, hopefully work something out and stay here for the long-term.”
The Nationals would love to lock Zimmermann up for years to come; they’ve been discussing an extension since 2012. To date, though, the two sides haven’t been able to find common ground. And it doesn’t appear they’re on the verge of consummating anything in the immediate future.
Zimmermann and the Nationals did settle on a 2-year, $24 million deal last month, not only avoiding arbitration this spring but next spring as well.
“It’s definitely good to have that out of the way,” the 27-year-old said. “I don’t have to deal with it next winter. I can just focus on baseball next offseason. I’m glad it’s over with. I’m here for another two years, and then hopefully in the future we can work something else out.”
What it will take to keep Zimmermann here for the future remains a matter of discussion. Does he deserve the kind of contracts afforded the very best pitchers in the game? Well, consider that since 2011 only four major-league starters boast ERAs better than Zimmermann’s 3.12 mark: Kershaw, Jered Weaver, Cliff Lee and Justin Verlander.
He’s effective. He’s consistent. He’s durable. He still has many years ahead of him.
Can you blame Zimmermann for wanting to see his name scrolling across the bottom of the screen in two years, with the same kind of contract details that made him stop and take notice this winter?
“I’ve been saying all along, I just want to be paid fair and be paid what I’m worth,” he said. “I’m not trying to strike one of the largest deals ever or anything like that. I just want to be paid what I’m worth. Obviously I like it here. But if we can’t come to an agreement here, then I might be moving on. But that’s a few years away. We don’t have to be thinking about that now. Think about winning this year.”
NL EAST STANDINGS
TUE: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Marlins, 12:40 p.m.
THU: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Orioles 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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