Zimmerman got healthy just in time, now hopes to return in ‘20

As our offseason coverage kicks into high gear, we’re going to review each significant player on the Nationals roster. We continue today with Ryan Zimmerman, who after an injury-plagued regular season came up big in the postseason to win his first World Series title.

Zimmerman-WS-HR-Blue-G1-Sidebar.jpgPLAYER REVIEW: RYAN ZIMMERMAN

Age on opening day 2020: 35

How acquired: First-round pick, 2005 draft

MLB service time: 14 years, 32 days

2019 salary: $18 million

Contract status: Free agent

2019 stats: 52 G, 190 PA, 171 AB, 20 R, 44 H, 9 2B, 0 3B, 6 HR, 27 RBI, 0 SB, 0 CS, 17 BB, 39 SO, .257 AVG, .321 OBP, .415 SLG, .736 OPS, 86 OPS+, -1 DRS, 0.1 fWAR, -0.2 bWAR

2019 postseason stats: 16 G, 60 PA, 55 AB, 5 R, 14 H, 3 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 5 BB, 17 SO, .255 AVG, .317 OBP, .418 SLG, .735 OPS

Quotable: “You can see: When he’s a healthy player, he’s a pretty damn good one, still.” - Mike Rizzo, on Zimmerman

2019 analysis: This, in so many ways, was the most frustrating season of Zimmerman’s career. Plantar fasciitis landed him on the injured list in late April, and when he returned two months later, he lasted only three weeks on the active roster before it felled him again. By the time he made it back again in September, he was reduced to part-time duty, often taking a back seat to Matt Adams or Howie Kendrick at first base. He did not, you may remember, even start the wild card game (though his broken-bat single off Josh Hader helped set the stage for Juan Soto’s season-changing hit only a few moments later).

Zimmerman started only one of the Nationals’ first four postseason games. But then he launched a three-run homer in Game 4 of the National League Division Series, and he never left the lineup the rest of the way, starting the team’s final 13 games. And he was productive, hitting .290 with four extra-base hits and five RBIs through the NL Championship Series and then accounting for the team’s first World Series run via a solo homer off Gerrit Cole in Game 1 that got the ball rolling in the right direction.

Zimmerman didn’t have a great World Series; he went 5-for-24 with that one homer and two RBIs. But he excelled in the field, scooping up low throws almost every night and making every play he needed to make. And when the team capped off its remarkable run with a Game 7 victory, he was front-and-center for the celebration, at long last rewarded for his 15 seasons with the organization.

2020 outlook: It was a foregone conclusion all along that the Nationals would decline Zimmerman’s $18 million option for 2020. He knew it, and he was fine with it. He maintained throughout, however, that he still believes he has plenty of baseball left in him, and he has no intention of finishing his career wearing any other uniform than the only one he has ever worn in the big leagues.

Though no deal has been struck yet, it would come as a colossal surprise if the Nats and Zimmerman aren’t able to work out terms on a new contract, likely for one year with a much lower base salary (and perhaps some incentives).

Zimmerman also knows he can’t attempt to be a 140-game-a-year player anymore, so he’ll set his sights on a more modest goal of 100 games played and try to make sure his body is in good shape for the most important games next season.

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