Originally posted on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 2/25/12

Every so often, a club will have a contest with its star player to see who has the bigger...manhood, shall we say.

Right now, the Washington Nationals are staging this particular contest with their young star third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. Zimmerman wants a new contract. The Nationals don't want to necessarily give him a new contract, especially given the fact that Zimmerman is coming off a season that saw him post some of the worst numbers of his career, largely due a lingering early-season abdominal injury.

But while he struggled mightily in 2011, all signs in Spring Training and beyond point to a full recovery from said injury. That's why it's baffling that the Nationals haven't pulled out all the stops to retain the cornerstone of their nascent franchise. From the Washington Post

"The Nationals and Zimmerman’s camp have been discussing the deal for more than a year, but several obstacles remain. The meeting Thursday did not necessarily move the sides any closer to an agreement — the Nationals have known the cost of signing Zimmerman for weeks.

“There’s still things that need to be worked on on both sides,” Zimmerman said. “We need to do some stuff, they need to do some stuff. We’ll see. I stay out of most of this stuff until it’s the decision time. We’ll see. We’ve come a long way from back where we started. You never know.”"

As of right now, the coffers haven't been opened and no new deal has been signed. Which, from an organizational perspective, is ridiculous on the Nationals' part. Because while Zimmerman's numbers weren't franchise player material in 2011, he does remain the cornerstone of the Washington Nationals for better or worse. While the team has invested far more into Jayson Werth and (reportedly) were among the finalists to land Prince Fielder. The money is there even if the fans are not if early attendance figures are any indication.

Zimmerman's demands are not unreasonable. Not to mention, he's well aware of the simple fact that the Washington Nationals need him a whole lot more than he needs them. Power hitting young third basemen aren't a dime a dozen these days. Zimmerman has shown that when he's not hurt, he's capable of consistently giving you 25 HR and 80+ RBI, something a constantly rebuilding Nationals squad is going to need as it tries to determine whether or not budding ace Stephen Strasburg can stay healthy for a full season.

Right now, the two sides are reportedly still talking but it would behoove the Nationals to keep their franchise player healthy. Without him, the team relies on Jayson Werth to carry the offense, something he has yet to show he can do on a contending team. Given the team's attendance woes, it's going to take a lot more than hope to fill the seats at the team's vanilla new ballpark. Giving Zimmerman a reasonable contract (at far less than what he'd get on the open market) would be a big step towards generating more revenue.

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