Agent: Nats likely to renew Zimmerman

Agent: Nats likely to renew Zimmerman

VIERA, Fla. -- Ryan Zimmerman has been the Nationals' best player the past two years because of his run production and defensive wizardry at third base. But as of now, he's not expected to get a multiyear deal any time soon.

According to Zimmerman's agent, Brodie Van Wagenen, he expects his client's contract to be automatically renewed. Zimmerman has less than three years of service time and the Nationals can automatically renew his contract for 2008 before the March 11 deadline.

There is still time to get a deal done, but Van Wagenen didn't sound optimistic in a phone call on Thursday night.

"Most likely, [Zimmerman] will be renewed and it's [the team's] right," Van Wagenen said.

In 2007, Zimmerman hit .266 with 24 home runs and 91 RBIs. It marked the second consecutive season in which he drove in 90 or more runs.

When reached by phone Thursday night, general manager Jim Bowden would not comment about the negotiations with Zimmerman.

Last March, the Nationals renewed Zimmerman's contract for $400,000. Zimmerman is arbitration-eligible following the 2008 season and can file for free agency three years after that.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.