11:20am: Zimmermann’s deal is expected to be a five-year pact worth roughly $110MM, according to sources who spoke with Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter).
10:52am: The Tigers and Jordan Zimmermann have reached agreement on a deal, per Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter). Zimmermann rejected a qualifying offer from the Nationals, so the Tigers will have to sacrifice a draft pick in order to sign him. The Tigers select ninth overall – a protected pick – so they would surrender their second pick. The deal is pending a physical.
Earlier this offseason, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes rated Zimmermann as the seventh best free agent available this winter and predicted that he could net a six-year, $126MM contract. A reliable righty, Zimmermann’s stock fell slightly this season due to a decline in his strike out and whiff rates from 2014. He also reverted to a league average HR/FB ratio, leading to a higher-than-normal 3.66 ERA. The 29-year-old right-hander (30 in May), has a career 3.32 ERA with 7.43 K/9 and 1.82 BB/9 in over 1,000 innings. His most recent campaign for the Nationals included similar numbers in 201 innings with the aforementioned regression in home run rate.
Zimmermann was shut down early in 2011, his first year back from Tommy John surgery, as the Nationals sought to build up his innings, but he has been quite durable ever since. In the last four years, Zimmermann has made at least 32 starts each season while compiling 810 1/3 total innings. Though he’s never put up gaudy single-season inning tallies, he is fifth in the game in total starts since the beginning of 2012 and ranks 12th in total frames over that span.
Zimmermann has also performed well in limiting platoon splits. He’s been slightly better against righties historically, of course, but has handle opposite-handed hitters in equivalent manner in most regards. Lefties do draw walks at a higher rate (2.3 vs. 1.4 BB/9), but their overall production has not been markedly greater (.310 vs. .286 wOBA).
There’s a lot to like, but 2015 undoubtedly represented a step back for the righty, and not just in the earned run department. Zimmermann’s 3.66 ERA was by far the highest full-season mark of his career, and his FIP (3.75), xFIP (3.82), and SIERA (3.83) marks all landed a fair sight over his career averages.
Detroit once boasted an elite rotation but after losing Max Scherzer and David Price in recent seasons, they’ve been in need of reinforcements. Additionally, Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez have become unreliable due to injuries and performance decline. Now, the Tigers figure to have a stronger rotation in 2016 and beyond thanks to the addition of Zimmermann.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports first reported that the two sides were in talks. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.