WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Ryan Zimmerman finds it odd that so many teams now feel the need to announce they are trying to win.
“I try and win every day,” the veteran Washington Nationals first baseman said Sunday. “I think that’s kind of the point of sports. That’s kind of what the whole basis about professional sports is — you try and win. When you have teams actively saying that we’re going to go into this free agent market in a win-now mode, I don’t know that you should have to state that it’s a win-now mode, but I guess that’s where we’re at. I think that’s troubling,”
Zimmerman made the comments while sitting at his locker, a few feet from where one of the offseason’s two premier free agents once dressed.
His former teammate Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are considered the jewels of the free-agent market, yet with position players reporting to most camps early this week, neither has signed.
“I don’t think I’m surprised. It happened last year,” Zimmerman said. “We were told it was going to be different this year because those two guys are out there, along with some other pretty good players, and nothing has changed. I don’t think anyone’s surprised.”
Zimmerman isn’t the first Washington player to question why more front offices don’t appear committed to fielding the best possible team — Max Scherzer made similar comments when he arrived at spring training. More than 50 players who became free agents after last season still don’t have a place to play.
“I don’t think it takes a genius to see that something’s going on,” Zimmerman said. “I don’t know what it is, but there’s too many good players out there that aren’t on teams. This is an entertainment business. For me, the fans should be able to see the best players in the world play. It doesn’t matter what team they are on.”
The 34-year-old Zimmerman is entering his 15th major league season, all with the Nationals. He’s in the final year of an 11-year, $135 million contract that includes a team option for 2020. Limited by an oblique injury last season, the two-time All-Star hit .264 with 13 homers and 51 RBIs in 85 games.
The Nationals were one of the most active teams in the offseason after a disappointing 2018. They signed left-handed starter Partick Corbin, catcher Kurt Suzuki, second baseman Brian Dozier and reliever Trevor Rosenthal. Washington also traded for catcher Yan Gomes and reliever Kyle Barraclough. Before those moves, they reportedly made a $300 million contract offer to Harper.
“I think there’s a lot of stock being put into the draft and prospects and young kids that are supposedly going to turn organizations around,” Zimmerman said. “There’s a lot of legit big league players that have done it for a long time that you know exactly what you are going to get and you could build a pretty good team with some guys.”
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