MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Quartet takes break from rumors at NatsFest

Desmond, Zimmermann, Clippard, Fister get chance to mingle with fans

Quartet takes break from rumors at NatsFest

WASHINGTON -- One could tell that Nationals fans were happy to see shortstop Ian Desmond and right-handers Jordan Zimmermann, Tyler Clippard and Doug Fister at NatsFest on Saturday afternoon.

The four players have been mentioned in trade rumors and will be eligible for free agency after the 2015 season. Neither player was thinking about leaving the Nationals on this day. There was Desmond hanging out with his son, Grayson. Fister talked about getting married this offseason and how fun it was to be on the USO tour. Clippard was often reminded by the fans that he is loved in Washington. Then there's Zimmermann. It seemed all the fans wanted to talk about was the no-hitter he threw against the Marlins on the last day of the 2014 season.

Of all the players, Zimmermann seemed to be the one mentioned the most in trade rumors. His representative, Mike Pieper, has met once with general manager Mike Rizzo in the last week. While the dialogue was positive, Zimmermann indicated that the two parties are not close to a deal.

"If it's a fair value, like I said all along, I'll sign. At the end of the day, it has to be something that's fair. If it's not, I'll be moving on," Zimmermann said.

As for Desmond, time is running out for this group of players and he understands that Rizzo has to do what's best for the club. There isn't any progress in the extension talks between Desmond and the Nationals.

"This isn't my first day on the job," Desmond said. "I understand what's going on. I wouldn't respect Mike the way I do if he just sat on his hands and did nothing. It's not how this organization got here and it's not how it's going to continue to move forward. Hopefully, I'm a part of it. If not, I'm going to be rooting for them."

Fister didn't talk much about his contract situation. He kept saying how much he enjoyed wearing a Nationals uniform and loves playing at Nationals Park.

"I don't want to know stories or anything," Fister said. "I'm a pitcher for the Washington Nationals. That's the stance I always take. I'm a part of the group. I'm a part of this team. Until something else happens until I'm told otherwise, that 's what I want to be. That's where I am."

Instead of thinking about trade rumors, Clippard, who made $5.8 million last year, has decided to relax this offseason. He has gone to a couple of weddings, played golf and is getting in shape for the '15 season.

"For me, I just go about my business, try to relax and enjoy my friends, my family, not really worry about it too much. I'm a day-to-day type person," Clippard said. "I try to stay in my little bubble, my comfort zone back home and not really worry about all the other outside stuff too much. That way, I can be ready for 2015 whatever that brings."

Maybe outfielder Kevin Frandsen said it best about Desmond, Zimmermann, Clippard and Fister: Yes, they could be free agents after '15, but the team comes first in their minds.

"They worry about everything but themselves. I feel like that's the best part to have. They are unselfish guys. We go for the same goal, whether it's one year or a few years to go," Frandsen said.

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.