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Nationals GM refutes report of Zimmermann trade talks

MLB.com @WashingNats

WASHINGTON -- Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo denied Wednesday that his team and the Cubs are in trade discussions regarding right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, who could be a free agent after the 2015 season.

The previous day, The Chicago Sun-Times reported that such discussions were taking place between the two teams at the General Managers Meetings in Arizona.

WASHINGTON -- Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo denied Wednesday that his team and the Cubs are in trade discussions regarding right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, who could be a free agent after the 2015 season.

The previous day, The Chicago Sun-Times reported that such discussions were taking place between the two teams at the General Managers Meetings in Arizona.

"It was somebody's conjecture that had no basis to it and no facts," Rizzo said. "There was no interaction whatsoever on the subject. How do I react to it? What can you do about it, other than talk to the guy who wrote it and say, 'What are you doing?'"

But when asked if he could see Zimmermann getting traded, Rizzo said, "We're open to moving anybody at anytime if it's the right deal for the club. To improve the club, we certainly are open-minded. We've made big trades before to acquire Major League talent. We've made trades to move the veterans to get younger players. That is our job -- to keep the balance and keep the eye on 2015 and beyond."

Zimmermann, according to a baseball source, turned down a five-year deal early this past season. Zimmermann is one of four players -- Ian Desmond, Doug Fister and Denard Span are the others -- on the Nationals who could become free agents after the '15 season.

Rizzo declined to offer specifics when asked if any progress was made on any of the team's potential free agents.

After signing a two-year deal worth $24 million before Spring Training, Zimmermann said he wasn't going to give the Nationals a discount. Asked why he accepted the two-year extension, Zimmermann said, "The long-term deal wasn't the right deal. It just didn't work out. They came to us with a two-year deal. Let's get this out of the way, so we don't have to worry about arbitration for the next two years. We can just focus on baseball. We felt it was right, and I think it was fair for both sides, and we got the deal done."

Zimmermann has arguably been the ace of the Nationals' pitching staff the last two years, going 33-14 with a 2.96 ERA in 64 games. He was named to the National League All-Star Game twice, but he didn't play because of injuries. The highlight of Zimmermann's career came on the last day of the 2014 regular season, when he pitched a no-hitter against the Marlins.

Even though they won 96 games this past season, the Nationals are looking to make improvements. They need to find a second baseman to replace free agent Asdrubal Cabrera, as well as productive bench players.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Washington Nationals, Jordan Zimmermann