The Nationals are bringing back longtime cornerstone Ryan Zimmerman on a one-year deal worth $1MM, reports USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (Twitter link). Zimmerman opted out of the 2020 season but said last month that he hoped to play again in 2021. The Washington Post’s Barry Svrluga adds that Zimmerman’s deal is still pending a physical and carries incentives to boost his that affordable base salary. Zimmerman is a client of CAA Sports.
Zimmerman, who turned 36 in September, has been a member of the Nats organization since they took him fourth overall in the 2005 draft. He was the first pick the franchise made after relocating from Montreal, and Zimmerman has certainly lived up to the selection. Zimmerman debuted in his draft year and has since put together a .279/.343/.475 line with 270 home runs in 7129 plate appearances. The former third baseman (who’s now a first baseman) also has a pair of All-Star nods on his resume and was part of the Nationals’ only World Series-winning team in 2019.
At present, there’s no path to everyday at-bats for “Mr. National,” given the team’s December acquisition of Josh Bell and the current lack of a universal designated hitter. Zimmerman, though, could certainly form a platoon with the switch-hitting Bell, who has historically been much better from the left side of the dish. Bell is a career .271/.360/.485 hitter as a lefty but just a .232/.315/.410 batter from the right side of the dish. Zimmerman, meanwhile, has clobbered lefties throughout his 15-year MLB career: .311/.390/.527.
That said, many still expect that MLB and the MLBPA will agree to keep the designated hitter in the National League between now and Opening Day, which would obviously open up more at-bats for Zimmerman, be it as a DH himself or at first base while the defensively challenged Bell slides into the DH spot.