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Ryan Zimmerman is still bad at negotiating, which is good for the Nationals

Ryan Zimmerman is still bad at negotiating, which is good for the Nationals

WASHINGTON -- Meet Ryan Zimmerman, world’s worst negotiator. 

For a year, Zimmerman has contended he wants to play in Washington and nowhere else. He’s done so for 15 years. His family lives in the District, his parents in Virginia Beach and a baseball field just up South Capitol Street is named after him. He is now a free agent -- a fancy term for “unemployed” -- for the first time in his major-league career. He last was jobless 20 years ago in 1999 as a freshman at Kellam High School in Virginia Beach. 

“Beautiful,” Zimmerman said of his state. “It’s great.”

Yes, he would like to play again. Yes, he would prefer it to be in Washington. And, no, it won’t be anywhere else. Which makes him either bad at trying to leverage his next contract or simply a 35-year-old who has run out of tolerance for posturing.

“I think I’ve made intentions pretty clear: it’s either play some more here or play more golf,” Zimmerman said. “So, we’ll be good to go.”

Zimmerman was well-received when he walked into The Anthem on Monday night to view a documentary about the Nationals’ run to the 2019 World Series title. He was the lone player to attend. Mike Rizzo joined him. A graphic touting the film included five players: Zimmerman, Max Scherzer, Juan Soto, Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg. Three of them are free agents.

“Obviously, we want everyone back,” Zimmerman said. “It’s a business. We’d love to keep everyone, you can’t keep everybody. ...Whatever happens with them is what happens, I think all of us will always remember last year no matter where they go.”

Zimmerman said his agent and Rizzo talked at the general managers meetings in mid-November. He then wondered when the Winter Meetings start. 

“The winter meetings are this weekend? Next weekend? Whenever,” Zimmerman said. “That’s the least of my worries. They talked with Rizz when we were out there at the GM meetings. Both sides want something to happen. It’s just a matter of getting something done. We’ll see what happens. I’m not too worried about it.”

He’s five weeks removed from winning the World Series. The first two weeks consisted of unpacking and touching the ground with feet again. His daughters were ready to spend more time with their dad. Zimmerman was ready to rest. 

However, it’s already December. The time to start working out comes shortly after he leaves the movie viewing. Spring training is three months away. Presumably, he will be there, though his friends have suggested an alternative because of his job status. 

“They tell me I should go claim unemployment,” Zimmerman said.

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The ageless Fernando Rodney to reportedly play in Dominican Winter League

The ageless Fernando Rodney to reportedly play in Dominican Winter League

Only one player in the major leagues threw a pitch while over the age of 40 last season. Fernando Rodney, who in fact is 42 and coming off his first ever World Series title, has appeared in at least 50 games each of the last eight years and 10 of the last 11.

For a player who’s three years older than the second-oldest active pitcher, taking the offseason off wouldn’t just be expected—it’d probably be recommended. But Rodney is taking no such break, reportedly signing up for the Dominican Winter League this offseason.

Leones del Escogido plays in his hometown of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. This will actually be the fifth time Rodney will suit up for the team, most recently doing so last winter.

Rodney is a free agent after being picked up by the Nationals midseason. He’s played 17 years in the majors and ranks 17th all-time in saves with 327.

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How big of a priority is filling the hole at second base for the Nationals?

How big of a priority is filling the hole at second base for the Nationals?

When the Nationals entered the offseason, they had significant needs at seven different areas of the roster: catcher, first base, second base, third base, rotation, bullpen and bench.

Washington made strides toward solidifying the first two by inking catcher Yan Gomes and first baseman Howie Kendrick to separate deals over the first five weeks of the offseason. But with former stars Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon both still on the board, there are still many different directions the Nationals could go this winter.

On this week’s episode of the Nationals Talk podcast, NBC Sports Washington’s Todd Dybas sat down with Jesse Dougherty of The Washington Post and MLB.com’s Jamal Collier to talk about the team’s offseason plans. With the needs the Nationals have in so many areas, the writers agreed Washington didn’t need to prioritize second base.

“Second base, to me, feels like it would probably be the last thing on my checklist if I’m the Nats,” Collier said. “You’re going to operate on some kind of budget and you have to spend money on re-signing [Stephen] Strasburg, figuring out whatever you’re going to do at third base…and you have to do something with this bullpen as well.”

Right now, the Nationals have top prospect Carter Kieboom as a potential option to take the starting job out of Spring Training. They also have veteran utility players Wilmer Difo and Adrian Sanchez on the roster, but neither has been able to produce consistently on the offensive end.

“I would probably band-aid it with probably a cheaper option than Brian Dozier,” Dougherty said. “Maybe even give Carter the shot but have a veteran behind him…César Hernández makes a ton of sense to me. He’s a switch hitter, he can play multiple positions, you have a hole at utility player.”

Dybas also mentioned Starlin Castro as a potential option. Castro played all 162 games for the Miami Marlins last season, hitting .270 with a career-high 22 home runs. He’ll be 30 years old on Opening Day and was lauded by his former club for his clubhouse presence.

One potential option that came off the board in recent weeks was Mike Moustakas, who inked a four-year, $64 million deal with the Cincinnati Reds. A natural third baseman, Moustakas played 47 games at second for the Milwaukee Brewers last season and is now entrenched there for the Reds moving forward with Eugenio Suarez playing third.

“I hate that Moustakas deal,” Collier said. The Reds are “putting him out of position. He’s not a second baseman. So you’re getting worse defensively for a guy who’s pretty much all power. We don’t know what the shape of the ball is going to be [and] he’s only getting older.”

It was certainly a high price tag, which likely took the Nationals out of the running if second base is an area the team is hoping to save money on. But they also could’ve signed Moustakas to play third, a position that is remarkably light on talent in free agency.

For the full episode, which also includes discussions about Rendon and Strasburg’s prospects of returning to Washington, you can find the Nationals Talk podcast at Art19, Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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