When asking who the face of the Washington Nationals franchise is, it’s pretty hard to argue against it being Ryan Zimmerman. Being the team’s first ever draft pick, Zimmerman has seen the Nationals grow from a Major League punchline to a World Series favorite. Still not yet 30, Zimmerman is a veteran, playing in his now tenth season in Washington, and will be there for years to come, as his 6 year/$100 million deal signed in February of 2012 officially kicks in and takes him through his age 34 season with an option for his age 35 season.
Zimmerman has without a doubt given Nationals fans some of their fondest memories. Zimmerman has a flair for the dramatic, as he has nine career walk off home runs, one of them being a walk off grand slam. Zimmerman christened Nationals Park with a walk off home run in 2008 as well, and also possesses a .381 career average in the playoffs. Needless to say, Zimmerman is the face of Washington’s franchise, and it’s safe to say his number 11 will probably be retired one day.
Zimmerman is not perfect however, as his shoulder has been a constant point of contention. He has had surgery on it, and it tends to come back to bite him at random points during the season. Zimmerman had an MRI today on the shoulder, and says that the pain in it causes him to having throwing issues. Zimmerman is not on the DL, and says he feels no pain when he swings the bat, which is always an encouraging sign. During the past winter, however, rumors began to crop up regarding Zimmerman’s future at third, with a possibility Zimmerman moves to first base, and Anthony Rendon eventually moves back to his natural position.
These rumors will eventually come to fruition, as Zimmerman’s shoulder will not allow him to be a career third baseman, and it is slowly becoming even more apparent. Adam LaRoche, Washington’s incumbent first baseman, is likely playing his final year in a Nationals uniform, as Washington owns a $15 million mutual option on him. Should LaRoche walk, that frees up first base, which Zimmerman should soon take hold of. As a first baseman, Zimmerman will have to make fewer throws, likely leading to less shoulder pain and fewer issues. Plus, the defense should not lose a step, since Zimmerman is a converted third baseman, and has the agility and range necessary to play first base.
Zimmerman will be a first baseman in 2015, there is no doubt about it. It has come to a point where his shoulder will always get in the way and have pain should Zimmerman make an awkward throw at some point. First base is the best move for Zimmerman, and for the Nationals, since they will get the most value out of the deal with Zimmerman moving, since he will be able to play every day and hopefully see less time on the DL or getting MRIs.