VIERA, Fla. -- Though optimistic about the progress that's been made over the course of the last year on a long-term contract with the Nationals, Ryan Zimmerman made it clear this morning there is still work to be done before his deadline to suspend negotiations arrives tomorrow.
"These things, they can go from pretty optimistic to pretty pessimistic real quick," he said inside the Nationals' clubhouse this morning. "They go both ways. You get something done, then you need to work on something else, and that thing becomes a road block. There's so many things that go on with these things. You can't really tell until it's finally done."
The Nationals and Zimmerman's agent, Brodie Van Wagenen, have been in talks for about a year and during that time have crossed many hurdles toward a long-term extension. Van Wagenen was in Viera yesterday and met with general manager Mike Rizzo, though he left town without a deal in place and with a few important details still unresolved.
One of the key points, according to sources familiar with the talks, is the inclusion of a full no-trade clause in the contract. Zimmerman will already attain no-trade rights at the end of the 2015 season because he'll have 10 years of service time and five years with the same club, but there would still need to be a provision in his deal to accommodate the next four seasons.
"The point of me signing this deal is to be here," said Zimmerman, who has two years remaining on his current contract. "Not to sign a deal that's team-friendly to have it with another team. That's the whole point of a deal."
Despite his self-imposed deadline -- designed to prevent the contract talks from becoming a distraction once spring training officially commences for position players -- Zimmerman acknowledged the two sides don't have to cross every T and dot every I by tomorrow.
"The big things have to be taken care of: The years, the money, that kind of stuff," he said. "The big parts of the contract. There's obviously little things in the language that take a little bit longer to take care of. But if we can most of the big things done by Saturday ... it doesn't mean I have to sign the contract by Saturday. But we have to have the pressing issues, which are a few things, done by Saturday."
And if the two sides can't resolve these remaining issues before then?
"It's not like this is the last year here, so it's not make-or-break," Zimmerman said. "Getting this done would obviously make them not have to worry about it for this year or next offseason. It kind of gives us a core group of guys in place for a long time. They can forget about me and start worrying about the younger guys that need to get taken care of in a couple years."