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Nats, Zimmerman close to extension

Nats, Zimmerman close to extension

WASHINGTON -- Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is close to signing a contract extension with the Nationals, according to a baseball source. The contract would cover at least Zimmerman's final two years of arbitration.

The source said an announcement may not be made for at least a week. Team president Stan Kasten and agent Brodie Van Wagenen have been working on a new deal for Zimmerman since March 1, the day Jim Bowden resigned as the club's general manager.

As one person familiar with the negotiations put it, "[The two parties] are on the same page. It's the agent that is holding it up."

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Kasten and Van Wagenen did not return phone messages.

When asked if a deal was close, Zimmerman said he was not aware of any negotiations going on between his agent and Kasten. In fact, Zimmerman said he did not want to negotiate a contract extension during the season.

"Talk to Stan and Brodie -- maybe they are doing something, but I'm playing baseball," Zimmerman said. "I haven't heard anything."

Zimmerman is considered by many to be the Nationals' best player. In his first full two years with Washington, the 24-year-old averaged 100.5 RBIs, but he missed 48 games last year because of a left labrum tear.

Entering Friday's action against the Marlins, Zimmerman is hitting .243 with two home runs and eight RBIs.

Acting general manager Mike Rizzo declined to comment on Zimmerman's contract status, but he said that the third baseman is the face of the franchise.

"He is a vital part of the franchise, both as the face of the franchise and one of its star players," Rizzo said.

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

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