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M-E-T-$ — Impending sale could unleash a new big-money, big-market power

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Fred and Jeff Wilpon love baseball, the way a 14-year-old loves video games, the way some folks are obsessed with cars and LeBron James cherishes basketball.

Their ownership of the Mets is not a case of really wealthy people buying a sports yacht so they can show off for friends in a private box party on summer nights. Rather, their passion for the game and all of its intricacies is real, and relentless. On any given afternoon, you can find Fred and/or Jeff hanging behind a batting cage, leaning against the frame and chatting up coaches and players, and late at night, a Wilpon might stick around to talk with the manager about what worked and what didn’t. In my time covering baseball, I’m not sure I’ve met anyone who cherishes the game more than Fred Wilpon.

That deep affection has proven to be problematic, because there have been a lot of moments when what the Mets’ franchise and their fans has really needed was not Wilpon input on the hiring of a strength coach, or a hands-on discussion about minor-league development, but greater financial investment. With Steve Cohen’s impending purchase of the team, announced Wednesday, there will be more money. Probably a lot more money. Because Cohen’s got money in a way the Wilpons do not, and for the first time in the past 45 years, we could see the full potential of New York’s National League franchise.

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Source — Ryan Zimmerman agrees to 1-year deal with Nationals

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The Washington Nationals and Ryan Zimmerman have agreed to terms on a $2 million contract for 2020 that includes the possibility of earning $3 million more in incentives, a source confirmed to ESPN’s Jeff Passan on Friday.

The agreement was first reported by The Washington Post.

When Zimmerman, 35, became a free agent, he figured he either would be back with the Nationals — or out of baseball.

“I think I’ve made my intentions pretty clear,” Zimmerman said in December. “It’s either play some more here or play more golf.”

He was the first player drafted by the Nationals in 2005 after the club moved from Montreal to Washington, and he has played in every one of their 15 seasons. He holds franchise career records for hits, doubles, total bases, homers and RBI.

Zimmerman was around for the consecutive 100-loss seasons in 2008 and 2009, the frequent trips to — and early exits from — the playoffs from 2012 to 2017, and, of course, the World Series championship last year.

Injuries limited him to 52 games and a .257 average with six homers and 27 RBIs in 2019, although he was a key contributor in the postseason. He is expected to share time at first base in 2020 with newcomer Eric Thames and holdover Howie Kendrick.

“He’s the classiest big leaguer I’ve ever been around. He’s the culmination of a lot of hard work. The guy’s been through some trials and tribulations. We all forget about the first six, seven years, when he played 160 games every year. I saw needles in his shoulder. I saw him play when he probably shouldn’t have played earlier in his career,” general manager Mike Rizzo said late last season. “That’s the kind of man he is and the kind of player he is. You see when he’s a healthy player, he’s a pretty damn good one still.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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Reports — Ryan Zimmerman agrees to 1-year deal with Nationals

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First baseman Ryan Zimmerman, considered by many the heart and soul of the Washington Nationals, has agreed to a one-year, $2 million contract to return for a 16th season, according to multiple reports.

The deal, first reported Friday by the Washington Post, could max out at $5 million if Zimmerman, 35, reaches all of the performance bonuses for games played and plate appearances, according to the Post.

Zimmerman was the first draft pick in Nationals history after the Montreal Expos relocated to Washington in 2005. He made his debut with the team late that season and has been a fixture ever since, hitting .279 with 270 homers and 1,015 RBIs. Zimmerman played in just 52 games in 2019, when he dealt with a foot injury, hitting .257 with six homers and 27 RBIs.

Zimmerman was a fixture at first base this past postseason as the Nationals won their first World Series title. He homered in the National League Division Series and also had the first World Series homer in team history when he took Houston’s Gerrit Cole deep in Game 1.

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Rockies, Trevor Story agree to 2-year, $27.5M deal

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Shortstop Trevor Story and the Colorado Rockies are in agreement on a two-year, $27.5 million contract, sources familiar with the deal told ESPN’s Jeff Passan on Friday.

The deal buys out the final two years of arbitration for Story, who will reach free agency at 29 in 2021-22.

Story ($11.5 million) and Colorado ($10.75 million) were $750,000 apart when they exchanged salaries in salary arbitration earlier this month.

The 27-year-old Story is coming off a season in which he set career highs in runs (111), batting average (.294) and on-base percentage (.363) while earning $5 million.

He finished with 35 homers and 23 steals, making him the second shortstop in major league history with multiple 30-20 seasons. Alex Rodriguez is the other one.

It also was Story’s fourth straight season with at least 20 homers. He’s the first shortstop in big league history to begin his career with four consecutive 20-homer seasons.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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