Jordan Zimmermann Rumors

Quick Hits: Towers, Zimmermann, A-Rod

Kevin Towers considered another front office job with the Diamondbacks after being fired as the team’s general manager, but Towers told AZCentral.com’s Zach Buchanan that he chose to leave rather than possibly make things awkward for new GM Dave Stewart and his staff.  “It didn’t feel right, and I didn’t want to be that elephant in the room when they’re making roster decisions or maybe letting people go,” Towers said. “‘I know K.T. likes him…’ I didn’t want them to have to worry about that.”  Towers said he’s spoken to a few teams and thinks he’ll be in a new job before the year is out, also hinting he likely wouldn’t return to one of his other ex-clubs (the Padres, Yankees and Pirates).

As we enjoy two LCS games today, here’s some news from around baseball…

  • With offense dropping around the game and a number of top-tier pitchers available in trades or free agency this offseason and next, this year’s free agent aces may find their markets slightly diminished, ESPN’s Buster Olney writes (ESPN Insider subscription required).
  • Also from Olney’s piece, he reports that rival officials feel Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann will test the free agent market when he is eligible after the 2015 season.  Zimmermann’s long-term status in Washington will be one of the biggest questions facing the Nats this winter.
  • Alex Rodriguez “is the most expensive mystery in baseball history,” Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes.  The Yankees currently have no idea if A-Rod will be able to handle third base on a regular basis, provide first base depth, hit well enough to earn DH at-bats or be healthy enough to play whatsoever.  This makes the team’s winter planning rather difficult, as just releasing Rodriguez would mean the Yankees have no way of recovering any of the $61MM remaining on his contract via insurance payments.
  • First baseman Dan Johnson is looking to add to his skillset by learning the knuckleball, Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith writes.  “Why not have something else in the bag? Give yourself every chance,” Johnson said. “I’m not 24 anymore. I want to help out as much as possible and still be relevant in this game.”  Johnson, best known for his dramatic Game 162 homer for the Rays in 2011, recently elected to become a free agent after the Blue Jays outrighted him off their 40-man roster.
  • MLB.com’s Corey Brock profiles Dan Kantrovitz, a St. Louis native who rose from a teenage internship (mostly handling Mark McGwire’s fan mail) with the Cardinals to becoming the club’s scouting director.
  • The Astros are next up for Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel in his rankings of each team’s top prospects and their overall farm system depth.

Nats Notes: Cabrera, Zimmermann, Extensions

Ninety years and one day ago, the Washington Senators defeated the New York Giants in Game Seven of the 1924 World Series.  Newsreel footage (YouTube link) of the Senators’ 12-inning walkoff win was recently uncovered by the Library of Congress, giving us a very cool glimpse into how baseball has both changed and stayed the same over nine decades.  (The blunt “President is there” title card is also pretty funny; poor Calvin Coolidge didn’t even merit being named?)  The Senators franchise won two more championships after they moved to Minnesota and became the Twins, but 1924 was the only time Washington D.C. celebrated a World Series title.

It’ll be at least one more year of waiting for D.C. in the wake of the Nationals’ loss in the NLDS but in the meantime, here are some Nats-related links…

  • Asdrubal Cabrera would prefer play shortstop but said he is open to playing second base on a contending team, he tells MASNsports.com’s Dan Kolko.  “It depends. A team like this team, a good team that want me to play second, I would love to stay here. I just want to win. I’ve got eight seasons already. I want to be in the World Series one day,” Cabrera said.  With a fairly thin crop of free agent shortstops, Cabrera could draw a lot of interest this winter, and his market will be further widened if he is willing to play second as well.  It would seem that the Nationals are Cabrera’s first choice given how he stressed how much he enjoyed his brief stint with the club.
  • The Nationals offered Jordan Zimmermann a five-year, $85MM extension last winter, MLB.com’s Bill Ladson reports.  Zimmermann mentioned that the two sides had discussed a lengthier deal than his eventual two-year, $24MM agreement, though the term and dollar figure of the larger offer weren’t known at the time.  The right-hander will be a free agent after the 2015 season and, if he continues his current form, he’ll be looking at deals in the $130-$140MM range on the open market.
  • Beyond Zimmermann, the Nationals also have to consider extensions for Ian Desmond and Doug Fister this offseason, CSN Washington’s Mark Zuckerman writes.  All three players will be free agents after 2015.  The Nationals could look to lock up Fister since he’ll command less money than Zimmermann, Zuckerman opines, and he also wonders if a seven-year, $105MM deal would be enough to keep Desmond in the fold.  That would represent a bump from the seven-year, $85-98MM deal that Desmond reportedly rejected last winter.

NL Notes: Zimmermann, Stanton, Roenicke, Phillies, Rockies

For the second consecutive year, MLB has a no-hitter to close out the regular season. The Nationals’ Jordan Zimmermann threw the first no-hitter for the franchise since their move to Washington, D.C., but needed a diving, over-the-shoulder grab by leftfielder Steven Souza, who entered the game as a defensive replacement for Ryan Zimmerman in the top of the ninth, to preserve the 1-0 gem. “No-doubt double and [Souza] comes out of nowhere. Whatever he wants, I’ll buy him anything,” Zimmermann said (as tweeted by the Washington Post’s James Wagner). As for his defensive wizardry, Souza (as quoted by Paul White of USA Today) “knew it was over my head. I was just hoping I had a prayer of laying out. Anything can happen when you hit the ground. I came down like a football catch and that thing wasn’t getting out.Henderson Alvarez, who tossed last year’s season-ending no-hitter, was the victim today.

Elsewhere in the National League:

  • The Marlins will discuss a contract extension with Giancarlo Stanton this offseason, reports Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. “That is our plan, to talk with him about extending him beyond his arbitration years,” said Marlins President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill. “We have to hear from them and what their goals are, and what they hope to accomplish. We have some ideas we’ll streamline and tighten up as have those meetings. And hopefully we’re on the same page and can get something done.” Stanton is represented by the Wasserman Media Group, per MLBTR’s Agency Database.
  • Earlier today, Marlins manager Mike Redmond received a contract extension. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, meanwhile, is still awaiting his fate. “Yeah, I don’t know where we stand,” Roenicke told reporters, including MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. “Yeah, it’s always uncomfortable when you’re not sure what’s going to happen. You do the best you can do, and you know when you’re a manager, that sometimes if it doesn’t go well, that you’re the guy that’s going to get blamed for it.” The Brewers lost to the Cubs to finish the year at 82-80 and 9-22 since August 26.
  • Ryan Howard is just as unclear about his 2015 status with the Phillies, according to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. “Whether it’s going to be here or not, I don’t know. But I’ll be playing baseball. So my future is certain in that aspect,” said Howard, who went so far as to ask reporters if they think he has played his last game as a Phillie. 
  • Phillies right-hander A.J. Burnett, who will undergo hernia surgery next week, remains undecided about exercising his $12.75MM player option, writes MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki. “It’s ultimately going to come down to me,” Burnett said. “I had the same thoughts last year. Then I woke up and I wanted to compete. So I can’t just shut that down if it’s still there. But then again, my youngins, they have a say in it.
  • Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post opines losing has taken such a toll throughout the Rockies organization that players, coaches, and other staff members are wondering if there is a vision to right the franchise.
  • Wally Backman will not be added to the Mets‘ coaching staff in 2015, sources tell Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.


Nats Would Like To Add Young Shortstop Via Trade

The Nationals, who have had extension offers rejected by shortstop Ian Desmond according to multiple reports, are “actively seeking” young shortstops in trades, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

Previous reports have indicated that Desmond rejected a seven-year, $85.5MM contract, but Rosenthal spoke to one source who said as much as $98MM was on the table over a seven-year period. Rosenthal notes that the Nats would clearly never trade Desmond or right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (also a free agent after the 2015 season) while the team was making a playoff push, but one or both could be on the market this winter.

The team isn’t likely to deal pieces from its Major League club this July, as they’re firmly in the playoff race. Instead, Rosenthal writes, Major League ready prospects like catcher Sandy Leon, outfielder Steven Souza and infielder Zach Walters could be used to entice teams instead (the mention of Walters is at least somewhat puzzling, as he is a shortstop himself, albeit one with poor on-base skills in Triple-A). Pitching prospects such as A.J. Cole and Lucas Giolito figure to be off limits due to uncertainty regarding Zimmermann’s future with the team, Rosenthal adds.

The Diamondbacks naturally come to mind when reports indicate that a club is looking for young shortstops, as they have Chris Owings, Didi Gregorius and Nick Ahmed in their organization. In the Nationals’ case, however, it seems likely that they’d be ok with targeting someone who is a bit further from Major League ready than that trio, as the team could simply retain Desmond for the 2015 season and give a younger shortstop another year to develop.


Quick Hits: Bonds, Kipnis, Brewers, Zimmermann

Barry Bonds will work with the Giants as a special instructor in spring training next month, Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News reports. Bonds has not had an official relationship with the Giants since 2007, his last season in the big leagues, so his presence could make quite an impression in Giants camp. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.

  • The Indians will "soon make a serious push" to extend second baseman Jason Kipnis, Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer writes. Kipnis is eligible for free agency following the 2017 season, and Pluto notes the Indians would likely try to sign Kipnis to at least a five-year deal, picking up at least one free-agent season. MLBTR recently suggested Kipnis could make $30MM-$35MM over the course of a five-year deal.
  • The Brewers will likely have a team-record payroll, and owner Mark Attanasio expects to win this season, Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel reports. "We’re at the point now where we’re well into the top half of payrolls in the major leagues. We have more pitching depth than we’ve had, really, in 10 years. As I’ve explained to everybody, as investors you wouldn’t make that decision to lose," Attanasio says. "The ownership group felt like this was the year to invest (more) in the team. I think we’re going to surprise people this year." After an offseason that featured the high-profile addition of Matt Garza, the Brewers have $86MM committed to 12 players, which could give them a higher payroll than they had in 2012, when their opening-day figure was $101.2MM.
  • The signing of Ubaldo Jimenez has had a dramatic impact on Orioles fans, MASNsports.com's Steve Melewski writes. The Orioles' offseason had been very quiet, but suddenly they've landed Jimenez and now have Nelson Cruz as well.
  • Nationals pitcher Jordan Zimmermann is happy with his two-year, $24MM contract, and isn't concerned about the recent Homer Bailey extension, reports MLB.com's Bill Ladson. Zimmermann and the Nationals tried to negotiate a long-term deal, but ultimately couldn't find enough common ground. "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," Zimmermann says. "We felt it was right, and I think it was fair for both sides, and we got the deal done."
  • Arbitration-eligible players received an average raise of 117 percent this offseason, with their average salaries rising from $1.78MM to $3.86MM, the Associated Press reports. The heftiest raise went to Freddie Freeman of the Braves, who went from $560K in 2013 to a multiyear deal with an average salary of $16.875MM.

East Notes: Zimmermann, Wieters, Byrdak, Phillies

The Nationals tried to negotiate a long-term deal with pitcher Jordan Zimmermann before eventually signing him for two years and $24MM, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports. The deal avoids arbitration this offseason and next, but does not buy out any years of free agency. Zimmermann says the two sides tried to find common ground on a longer contract this week, but were "too far apart to get that done." Kilgore also notes that the structure of Zimmermann's contract — he gets $7.5MM in 2014 and $16.5MM next year — could make it a bit trickier for the Nationals to deal him in the coming seasons. Here are more notes from the East divisions.

  • It's unclear what the Orioles will do with Matt Wieters, Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com writes. The two parties exchanged arbitration figures yesterday, with the O's proposing $6.5MM and Wieters filing for $8.75MM. He's the only arbitration-eligible Oriole who hasn't already agreed to a contract. He's eligible for free agency after the 2015 season, but Melewski suggests there are few indications the two sides have made progress on a long-term deal. Wieters' weaker numbers last season (.235/.287/.417 in 579 plate appearances) also make it increasingly unlikely he'll get a bank-breaking deal like Joe Mauer's or Buster Posey's.
  • The Mets have not made Tim Byrdak an offer this offseason, the lefty himself tweets (via MetsBlog). Byrdak, 40, missed much of 2013 with a shoulder injury. His fastball velocity averaged just 85.4 MPH after he returned in September.
  • The Phillies' moves for the rest of this offseason are likely to be minor, writes MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. One priority might be a left-handed bench player, perhaps an outfielder.

Nationals, Jordan Zimmermann Agree To Two-Year Deal

The Nationals and right-hander Jordan Zimmermann have agreed to a two-year, $24MM deal to avoid arbitration, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter). Zimmermann, a client of Relativity Baseball (formerly known as SFX), will earn $7.5MM in 2014 and $16.5MM in 2015, Sherman adds. The contract buys out Zimmermann's final two years of arbitration but no free agent years.

Zimmermann, 27, has emerged as perhaps the most consistent pitcher in the Nationals' rotation. The former second-round pick has pitched to a 3.12 ERA with 6.9 K/9, 1.8 BB/9 and a 43.8 percent ground-ball rate in 570 1/3 innings since his return from Tommy John surgery in 2011. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had projected Zimmermann to earn $10.5MM in 2014, so he likely took a hit on his 2014 salary in exchange for the security of locking in a significant payday in 2015.

The Nationals have made no secret about the fact that they'd prefer to keep Zimmermann around well beyond his final two years of arbitration, and I'd imagine that they'll continue to discuss a longer contract extension between now and Opening Day.


Quick Hits: Downs, Nationals, Papelbon, Reynolds

Last month, reliever Darin Downs found out the Astros had claimed him off waivers from the Tigers as he was driving his wife to deliver the couple's second child, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports. "I had a couple missed calls, a couple text messages. So I call one of the front office staff from the Tigers, he says, 'Oh, you've just been claimed by the Astros.' I'm like, 'All right, cool. I'm going to the hospital,'" Downs says. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.

  • A year removed from their nightmarish 2012 season, the Red Sox are again a desirable team for free agents, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes. Some of that, Lauber notes, has to do with the team's willingness to spend money. The team also seems to have rehabilitated its reputation among players after reports of 2012 locker-room disarray. But another important consideration is simply that every season is different. "I always chuckle inside when you see the quote from a free agent, 'I want to go to a contender,'" says Jonny Gomes. "Oh, you mean the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008? Or the Oakland A’s in 2012? That contender? I know anything can happen. Every single year, good, bad and in between, is like an individual season. All you have to do is turn the page."
  • Reliever Jim Hoey is trying to return to the big leagues, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes tweets. Hoey, who will be 31 next week, last appeared in the Majors in 2011, when he pitched in the Twins' bullpen. He is perhaps best known for being traded (with minor-leaguer Brett Jacobson) for J.J. Hardy and Brendan Harris in 2010. He pitched briefly in the Brewers' system in 2013, and also pitched in independent ball.
  • The Nationals have a variety of extension candidates and may not have an easy time deciding how to handle them, writes Pete Kerzel of MASNsports.com. Pitcher Jordan Zimmermann and shortstop Ian Desmond are both open to extensions, Kerzel notes, but GM Mike Rizzo also needs to think about whether to extend Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg long-term (if that's practical — Scott Boras represents both of them, and one would think his demands would be through the roof). An extension for Zimmermann could exceed Matt Harrison's five-year, $55MM deal, possibly winding up somewhere near $85MM, Kerzel suggests. Both Zimmermann and Desmond can become eligible for free agency after the 2015 season.
  • The decline in Jonathan Papelbon's stuff last season could make other teams reluctant to trade for him, and Jason Collette of Fangraphs shows exactly what went wrong. Papelbon's velocity dropped as the season progressed, which allowed batters to make more frequent contact with his fastball. Hitters also made more contact with his splitter when he left it in the zone. While Papelbon's superficial statistics (a 2.92 ERA and 29 saves) were reasonable, his peripheral numbers mark him as something like an average closer at this point. Since he's making $13MM a year, that's a problem, and it could be tricky for the Phillies to deal him.
  • The Yankees have had talks with Mark Reynolds about a deal to return next season, but the corner infielder appears set to sign somewhere else, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports. Reynolds, 30, joined the Yankees in August after being released by the Indians, and hit .236/.300/.455 in 120 plate appearances, with characteristically high strikeout totals.

NL East Notes: Papelbon, Braves, Samardzija, Nats

Trading Jonathan Papelbon wouldn't solve much for the Phillies at this point, opines Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com. Seidman runs down a possible scenario in which the Phillies ate $6MM to move Papelbon, noting that GM Ruben Amaro Jr. would then still try to sign a replacement. Names like Grant Balfour and Joaquin Benoit could cost upwards of $10MM per season anyhow, meaning the Phillies may not even save much money should that scenario play out. Papelbon will have more value to teams at the trade deadline when fewer quality options are available, writes Seidman. Here's more from the NL East…

  • David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets that the Braves have approached some of their young stars about extensions over the past two years but felt they'd have to overpay to get something done.
  • O'Brien also runs down the Braves needs on the heels of a quiet Winter Meetings, noting that they're optimistic about re-signing Eric O'Flaherty. Atlanta is still pursuing a veteran bench bat — O'Brien mentions Eric Chavez — and are still interested in Jeff Samardzija. The Braves may be considered the favorites to land Samardzija at this point, says O'Brien, noting that payroll constraints will likely preclude them from pursuing David Price.
  • After adding to their rotation, bench and bullpen, the Nationals will now turn their focus to extending Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Should the Nats be unable to extend Zimmermann, they may be forced to consider trading him this time next season, one source told Kilgore.
  • Nate McLouth spoke to former teammate Adam LaRoche (whom he called one of his favorite teammates ever) and asked what the Nationals clubhouse was like before deciding to sign there, writes Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. McLouth doesn't hold ill will toward the Orioles for not retaining him.

NL East Rumors: Zimmermann, Mets, Blevins, Braves

The Mets made a big splash this afternoon when they inked veteran starter Bartolo Colon to a two-year deal.  Here’s the latest out of the NL East..

  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter links) asked Nationals GM Mike Rizzo if he’d consider trading Jordan Zimmermann.  The Nats have tried to extend Zimmerman twice and, like David Price of the Rays, he has two years of club control remaining.  “We’d certainly love to get something done with him. But like any premium guy on your team, if here is something that can’t be done, then you would think about a trade. But that’s the furthest thing from our minds,” Rizzo said.
  • Colon’s age and history allowed the Mets to land him at a reasonable price, tweets Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors.  In Tim’s view, it’s easy to see him returning $20MM+ of value over the next two years. 
  • Jerry Blevins found out that he was traded from the Athletics to the Nationals around noon time, according to MLB.com’s Bill Ladson (on Twitter). He was initially shocked because, unlike our readers, he did not pay attention to any of the trade rumors going on.
  • The Braves were interested in Roy Halladay before he chose to retire and would like to add a veteran starter on a short-term deal, tweets Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press.
  • Mets officials met with Ervin Santana‘s people, but that appears unlikely in the wake of the Colon signing, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
  • The Phillies didn’t meet with Bronson Arroyo yet and while that doesn’t necessarily preclude a deal, others are more serious about him, tweets Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.