Ryan Zimmerman and the Washington Nationals agreed to a contract yesterday that fits Zimmerman in a Nationals (or Natinals) jersey for the next half-decade at a minimum. The five-year, $45-million contract buys out all three of Zimmerman’s arbitration years plus two seasons that were to be under market control. Because of our 40/60/80 rubric for arbitration value, that gives us 3.8 equivalent free agent years covered under this contract.
At $45 million over 3.8 years, the Nationals are paying Zimmerman the equivalent of just under $12 million per market year. Using current market rates per win (around $4.25 to $4.5 million per win), the Nationals are paying for about a 2.75-win player. Does Zimmerman project to live up to or exceed that mark?
Zimmerman has seen his offense decline over the past three seasons, but only be slight amounts and given that offense as a whole dove last year and was down in 2007 compared to 2006 as well, he still looks fine. In fact, Ryan Zimmerman has actually maintained a relatively stable wOBA compared to the league, around 5% above average. Interestingly enough, a majority of the projection systems predict a substantial rise in Zim’s wOBA this year, with an average coming in around the .360 mark which would be a full season career high and put Zimmerman around the 15 run above average mark.
Fielding wise, Ryan Zimmerman’s numbers outside of 2007 show that of a consistently slightly above average player. He flipped out according to UZR in 2007, but given the stability in each other year, that looks like a fluke. Still, it shows what he is capable of, and I am comfortable penciling him in as an average fielder at about five runs over average for the duration of this contract. Toss in the 3B positional adjustment and the replacement level bonus and Zimmerman projects out to a touch over four wins on average.
Given that he’s averaged 3.8 over the prior three seasons, this seems like no stretch at all. Really, this is a huge win for the Nats both on getting value on Zimmerman and in keeping him in DC where they can hopefully use him to help establish an identity for the franchise.
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