Trade Rumors swirling and many suggest replacing Ryan Zimmerman

In the Hot Stove part of the year, there will always be suggestions of trades —ranging from the ridiculous and the outlandish to the clever and well thought-out. The talking heads will keep talking and the writers will keep writing and mixing and matching the Washington Nationals with many players from Chris Sale to Miguel Cabrera as they need us all tuning in and clicking on.

David Vassegh claims the Nationals have checked in on trading for Miguel Cabrera which would clearly be for 1st base since the Nationals do not need a DH, Tom Verducci suggested trading for Chris Sale in a blockbuster trade,  Ken Rosenthal claimed that the Nats and Pirates talked at the 2016 trade deadline about a deal for Andrew McCutchen, Casey Stern suggested signing Edwin Encarnacion and trading Ryan Zimmerman while eating a chunk of his $14 million per year salary, Tom Boswell wrote, “…Or maybe see what Harper’s trade value is since nobody in D.C. has fixed his hitting”, Jim Bowden has the Nats as possible destinations for several players not named Miguel Cabrera, and ESPN’s David Schoenfield suggested trading for Brian Dozier and the domino effect if that happened.

Senators69 wrote here, “I don’t think anyone here has posted this link yet (pardon me if I am wrong). Here is an ESPN article by Schoenfield on the best trades for all 30 teams:…” He suggests the following: “Minnesota Twins trade 2B Brian Dozier to the Washington Nationals for RHP Lucas Giolito.”

Schoenfield writes, “That leaves Ryan Zimmerman as an expensive bench player, but he’s nothing more than a platoon bat these days, and acquiring Dozier allows Turner to remain in center field — where his blazing speed is best utilized — and upgrades the defense at second base.”

If we add up most of the rumors, they suggest the Nationals are replacing Ryan Zimmerman with Player X or Y, and this comes after Mike Rizzo has already told the media what his plans were for Ryan Zimmerman.

“Zim’s our first baseman going into this off-season and Spring Training,” General Manager Mike Rizzo said earlier this month.

Even though Rizzo keeps telling the media his plan with Zimmerman, they keep suggesting otherwise. Rizzo did not guarantee anything beyond Spring Training, but the quote seems to indicate he is not bringing in new first baseman.

The soundbites have to hurt Zimmerman personally. “He’s nothing more than a platoon bat” was written in ESPN, and on MLB Network, “This is not a good player right now. And I hate it because it’s shoulder injuries, and it’s not his fault and whatever else, but he’s not a good player.”

“That’s baseball,” Ryan Zimmerman said after the season. “I mean, I’m a pretty streaky hitter. I always have been. I’ve never really gotten to great starts, and come June, July, August, sometime around then, I would usually kick it into gear. This year for some reason, it never really happened.”

From Ryan Zimmerman’s lips, “This year for some reason, it never really happened” was how Ryan Zimmerman left it. He did not tell us how he was going to get better going forward and staying healthy is a key, and telling everyone he is a slow starter also does not evoke confidence. We cannot wait for the weather to heat up in June 2017.

During the season, Dusty Baker was asked many times about Ryan Zimmerman.

“One thing, you are not going to do it on the bench,” Dusty Baker answered the media about his slumping player, Ryan Zimmerman, in mid-September. “I’m glad we have this lead. I know a lot of people are asking, ‘why am I still playing him?’  But this guy is a carrier. There are carriers, and there are helpers. A helper can help you for so long, but a carrier can carry you [for a long time]. A couple of weeks is all we need.”

Dusty Baker spoke of Zimmerman’s confidence, and there was that time when Zim was the most confident player on the Nationals and would carry the entire team and felt the pressure was on the pitcher. He earned the nickname “Mr. Walk-off” for his game ending heroics. How can you reverse a lack of confidence?

“I have to play Zim enough to keep his confidence up—let him know that I have confidence in him. We need Zim,“ Dusty Baker said. “When he got that base hit, I saw him looking up into the heavens like he was so thankful. I think guys are pulling for him harder than anyone on the team because they have seen what Zim can do. I’ve seen it from the other side. I have not seen it from here.”

The season finished and Zimmerman was never a “carrier”. His final stats line gave a glimpse into a frustrating season. A .218 batting average and a .170’s batting average when runners were in scoring position (126 plate appearances) made it even worse. Zimmerman’s fWAR was -1.3 which means he lost 1 1/3 games for his team in comparison to if the Nats just played a league average 1st baseman in those same 115 games played.  A -1.3 WAR is equal to a -1.8 over 162 games. Clint Robinson was a -1.2 fWAR himself. Between Zimmerman and Robinson the Nationals lost 2 1/2 games.

fangraphs ryan zimmerman

Of the 55 qualified 1st baseman with over 150 plate appearances, Robinson and Zimmerman rank at the bottom in WAR. Mark Teixeira ranked just ahead of the Nats duo, and he has now retired. Ryan Howard, the former NL MVP, was paid $10 million dollars as his final payment from the Phillies as they sever their ties, and Howard is now a free agent.

The optimist says there is no way Ryan Zimmerman can be this bad in 2017, right? You would hope not. But it is long overdue for Zimmerman to reinvent himself and to dedicate himself to new mechanics.

VirginiaScopist was kind enough to transcribe this interview for us.

“I think it’s just getting ready a little bit early,” Ryan Zimmerman said during the 2016 season. “You know, being a leg kick guy, there’s so much timing and there’s a lot of moving parts in my swing.  It’s not a very simple swing, so when you miss some time and then you come back and maybe try and do too much, you start going a little bit too fast and — you know, these last couple of games, just focused in on getting ready early and trying to slow it down a little bit.  And, you know, when you’re going towards the ball, those sliders look like strikes because, you know, you’re six inches, a foot ahead.  And when you’re way back on that back leg, those sliders look like balls.  So, you know, it’s a fun sport we play.  It’s great.  It’s — you know, it will wear you out if you let it.”

Zimmerman told us what is wrong with his swing. You can see the big leg kick and the timing needed while bringing his hands back in the load making his swing longer. What worked at 25 years old has not been working for a while.

This video is one of the thousands boasting the perfect hitting mechanics. It is with much hope that Ryan Zimmerman is doing just this in his off-season.

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