Will Ryan Zimmerman continue his playing career after the 2021 season?
The Nationals icon remains uncertain about his future, but if he ultimately decides he wants to keep playing, he'll certainly have a place on the Washington roster.
"Ryan Zimmerman has a place on Mike Rizzo's team any time and as long as he wants it," Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo told the Sports Junkies Wednesday.
When Zimmerman opted out of the 2020 campaign, it was fair to wonder whether Nats fans would see him on the field again. Then, he signed a one-year contract to return to the club in 2021 and left questions regarding his retirement open-ended.
As this season has played out, Zimmerman has been a consistent producer in the lineup despite the Nationals' dive down the NL East standings and eventual fire sale at the trade deadline. He's currently hitting .243 with 14 home runs, 45 RBI and a .767 OPS in 99 games.
In fact, it has been his production at the plate that's sparked the talk of him returning for a 17th season in Washington.
"He really wears out left-handed pitching," Rizzo said. "He's shown over his career that he can hit lefties and righties, but in his later years, his appearances against left-handed pitchers have been great. He still has the hand speed, the bat speed to turn around [hard fastballs]... He still has the quick twitch to put the barrel of the bat on the ball and, like I've always said, when he hits it and it hits the barrel, for Zim it stays hit and it goes a long way. He's proven that throughout his terrific career with us."
Zimmerman has become synonymous with Nationals baseball. He's the first player the franchise drafted after moving to D.C and along the way he has become the franchise's all-time leader in hits, home runs, games played, runs, doubles and RBI to name a few. Zimmerman's gone from being the highly touted youngster playing third base, to the team's best player and then all the way around to their leader in the clubhouse.
If this season is Zimmerman's last, Nats fans will get 17 more games of him. If not, it appears he already has a spot on next year's roster and could continue to contribute to the only team major league team he's ever known.