Zimmerman says he's unsure about his playing future after 2021


Ryan Zimmerman has spent the last 16 years as a member of the Washington Nationals, experiencing the highs of a World Series title and the lows of multiple 100-loss seasons.

Zimmerman, who turns 37 next month, has taken the year-by-year approach for how much longer he wants to play. His contract -- a one-year deal -- is up after this season. What's next remains to be seen.

Speaking on the Sports Junkies on Thursday, Zimmerman admitted that he's still unsure about his playing future after this season. There are multiple things he feels that he must figure out before deciding whether he wants to return to Washington for a 17th year.

"A lot of it is going to depend on, first of all, how I feel and when it gets time to start working out, ramping up in the offseason, honestly if I feel like getting ready to work out again," Zimmerman said. "I think that's the most important part, too, is the hardest part of every season is the offseason before that season. You have to be ready. You have to put in the work to prepare yourself to play a Major League season. It's a good amount of work in the offseason. So, that's the first sort of thing, to see if I still want to do that."

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Besides his health, Zimmerman also said that he must take Washington's future plans into account, too. Washington traded several key pieces at the deadline in July, including All-Stars Trea Turner and Max Scherzer. The Nationals significantly improved their farm system at the deadline, but also likely decreased their chances of contending next year.

Zimmerman will be 37 years old at the beginning of the 2022 season. Would he really want to return for a rebuilding team?

"Now, it's honestly going to see what [the Nationals'] plan is as well. I've lost a lot of games before," Zimmerman said. "I've done that whole gig. I'm not saying I'm not in if they're going to do that, but we'll see what their plan is and go from there."

Zimmerman also made it clear that he'll talk to his wife, Heather, after the season and decide if it's in his best interest to keep playing. The couple has three kids together, all of whom will be eight years old or younger at the beginning of next year.

"Well, I guess the first thing is to talk to Heather and see if she's still sane at home with three kids and me being gone, like I am right now, for 10 days," Zimmerman said. "I think talking about it with your family and see if you're really ready to ramp it up and do it again."

The two-time All-Star also pointed out another factor that could significantly impact his decision to returning: baseball's Collective Bargaining Agreement is up following this season. How far the negotiations go between the two sides could play a role in his choice to return to Washington or not.

Additionally, Zimmerman said he has a close relationship with general manager Mike Rizzo, who has been in Washington since 2009. 

"I could probably talk to him this morning if he would want me to come back next year," Zimmerman said. 

If Zimmerman were to return, it would almost certainly be in a similar role that he has this year. The veteran has platooned with Josh Bell at first base, but Bell has been the primary starter for most of the season. Zimmerman signed up for the role knowing that would be the case and has performed well as a bench player.

"I still feel like I'm productive. I still feel like I can help a team win," he said. "But there's a lot of things to think about."