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Jordan Zimmermann went 12-8 with a career-best 2.94 ERA last season.
Zimmermann was the only one of the Nationals' seven arbitration-eligible players who didn't agree to terms with the club a contract prior to the January 18 deadline to exchange arbitration figures. The 26-year-old hurler is seeking a salary of $5.8 million; the Nats countered with an offer of $4.6 million.
The two sides can continue to negotiate a compromise before the arbitration hearing takes place in early-February, but there remain sticking points.
"We're kind of hung up right now," Zimmermann said. "We'll see what happens. We definitely want to get this deal done and move on."
Zimmermann, who made $2.3 million last season as a first-time arbitration-eligible player, set career-best marks in wins (12), ERA (2.94), innings (195 2/3) and strikeouts (153).
Arbitration cases, though, take multiple seasons' worth of performances into consideration and determine a player's salary in large part based on the contract terms of comparable big leaguers.
"We'd like to sort it out before the hearing," Rizzo said. "We're still talking and negotiating. Unfortunately in arbitration, the other teams affect what happens with your case. With Zimmermann's class of pitchers around him, we're waiting to see what we're going to be up against."
No matter how Zimmermann's 2013 salary is determined, the two sides remain interested in a long-term deal that would buy out the right-hander's remaining two arbitration years and some of his free-agency years. Talks originated one year ago and haven't progressed much since.
"I would be interested," Zimmermann said. "Obviously, we have to get the one-year deal done first. If the multi-year deal comes, and it's the right deal, we'll take it, but if not, we'll definitely wait."
Zimmermann, who is represented by the SFX Baseball Group, lets his agents handle the contract talks but stays up-to-date on any negotiations.
"I like being involved and knowing what's going on," he said. "Obviously, he does all the talking and then talks to me. It's a fun little process to be involved in. It's pretty interesting."