Can Ryan Zimmerman Be Saved?

Scott MaloneAnalyst IAugust 19, 2008

Let's face it: The Washington Nationals are the worst team in baseball.

The team, as a whole, is just offensively anemic, with the worst record and offense in all of baseball.

This team has steadily gotten worse and worse since 2006, in terms of quality talent on the field.

Granted, their pitching has been decimated by injuries. They also have a good, young prospect in Ross Detwiler, who is soon to be major-league material.

However, ever since the departure of Alfonso Soriano after the 2006 season, the weight of the offense has been carried by one man: Ryan Zimmerman.

With Soriano on the team, and in his first full season, Zimmerman put up impressive numbers. He hit .287, with 21 HR, 110 RBI, and 11 SB in 157 games.

Last year, the franchise player hit .266, with 24 HR, 91 RBI, and 4 SB in 162 games.

His '08 campaign has been plagued by a shoulder injury, which kept him out from May 26 to July 22. He has put up lackluster numbers when he has played though, posting a .267 AVG, 8 HR, 33 RBI, and 1 SB.

Clearly, his numbers were significantly better when he had some help in the lineup.

Now, Zimmerman has an opportunity for escape.

His one-year, $465K deal expires at the end of this season.

He is presented with two choices:

1) Re-sign with Washington, since they will want to keep him as their franchise player, even if it means enduring mediocrity for more years,


2) Follow the path of Alfonso Soriano and bolt for the free-agent market, in the hope that he will be signed by a better team.

Now, should he bolt for the open market, Zimmerman could receive some good offers. He is only 24, has proven that he can produce when given help, is an excellent defensive third baseman, and he will play over 90 percent of the season.

There are also teams that would like to add a third baseman to fill a void. The Phillies have had a black hole at third ever since Scott Rolen left, and adding the young Zimmerman to their already potent lineup would increase production and give them, possibly, the best infield in baseball.

The San Francisco Giants could also be interested in Zimmerman becoming a part of their youth movement.

However, the Washington Nationals are sure to offer Zimmerman a pretty sizable pay raise to stay in DC for a little while, if only so that he cannot go to a division rival like the Phillies.

Jim Bowden has watched Alfonso Soriano walk, failed to pony up enough to entice Aaron Crow to sign, and he could be seeing Zimmerman for the last time in a Nats uniform.