Jordan Zimmermann Rumors
We just saw one bit of news from the Nats, as the club released Yunesky Maya. Though the move was hardly surprising and will not have any substantial impact going forward, it is a final conclusion to the saga of a player who President and GM Mike Rizzo had heralded as the Nats' "first major international signing." Fortunately, Rizzo has also acquired and developed other talent that more than makes up for the failed Maya experiment. Some of those players were covered in Rizzo's interesting discussion with MLB.com's Bill Ladson:
- Addressing lefty Ross Detwiler, Rizzo said that he "could bolster our bullpen and give us some depth as a starter." Rizzo proceeded to emphasize again that the club is enthusiastic about young starters Taylor Jordan, Tanner Roark, and Nate Karns, each of whom, he said, "should be able to help us next season."
- It is somewhat of a surprise for Rizzo to have referred to Detwiler as rotation depth, as he had generally been expected to slot in the rotation, where he has been effective. There are, however, valid reasons to prefer Detwiler in the pen, including his slight build, injury history, and primarily two-pitch repertoire. Certainly, it is hard to imagine the Nats handing both the fourth and fifth starter roles to unproven arms. If Rizzo does indeed intend to use Detwiler in relief, there are two important takeaways: first, the club would have a much less pressing need for a premium southpaw setup man; and second, it would have a roughly proportional increase in its need for a new starter.
- Rizzo also talked about possible extensions for two of the team's best players: shortstop Ian Desmond and pitcher Jordan Zimmermann, each of whom has long been discussed as an extension candidate. "We certainly have an interest in getting it done," Rizzo said in reference to extensions for both players. "But I don't know if we'll get it done before Spring Training. We've made overtures and we haven't had a deal done yet."
- As I noted in my offseason outlook for the Nats, starting pitching and new deals for Desmond and Zimmermann are probably the best ways for Rizzo to add value to the club over the coming off-season. But those things won't come cheap. Starters are coming off the board with substantial numbers. And MLBTR's TIm Dierkes reasons that Desmond could cost nine figures to extend, with Zimmermann warranting $85MM.
- On the revelation that the club has contract issues to work out with star youngster Bryce Harper, Rizzo told Ladson that the club "ha[s] Bryce under contract for the foreseeable future" and "want him around for a long time." The organization was, of course, aware that Harper's arbitration opt out eligibility could become an issue. Said Rizzo: "It was a contract of a drafted player that we negotiated and agreed upon. That's as far as I can go with it."
- Pressed by Ladson as to whether Anthony Rendon would man second for the Nats in 2014, Rizzo would not commit but did say that "he will be a National." "I don't know where he is going to play or what he is going to do," continued Rizzo, while also praising Rendon's "high ceiling" and noting that he "can play many positions." It is hardly surprising that Rizzo would hesitate to hand the starting gig to Rendon before the spring, and the GM's comments were, as usual, rather oblique. That makes it difficult to ascribe any particular relevance to these statements with respect to the club's free agent shopping plans or Rendon's possible availability in a major trade.
Alex Rodriguez's public battle with the Yankees took another turn today when the slugger denied a report that the club intends to fine him a day's pay for conduct during his recent rehab assignment. According to ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand, a hand-delivered letter written by Yankees GM Brian Cashman informed A-Rod that the club plans to punish him for seeking a second opinion on his quadriceps injury and also for failing to appear at Yankee Stadium last month after meeting with MLB officials to discuss the Biogenesis investigation. In an article by Bryan Hoch and Josh Vitale of MLB.com, however, A-Rod denied receiving the letter. "Maybe they sent it to my lawyers," Rodriguez said. "But I'm not really going to talk about that." More Saturday night MLB links...
- Neither Ian Desmond nor Jordan Zimmermann appear close to contract extensions with the Nationals, Bill Ladson of MLB.com reports. Zimmermann, 27, said his camp and the Nationals broached the subject in the offseason but didn't come close to an agreement. "I'm not going to give a huge team discount," Zimmermann warned. "Just something fair is all I ask."Meanwhile, Desmond recognizes that he has two years of arbitration remaining and doesn't appear to be in a hurry to put together a deal, according to Ladson.
- Everth Cabrera's recent suspension has reinforced the fact that the Padres' farm system is thin on shortstop talent, Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune says. “You’d like to have a shortstop at every level that you feel is a prospect – has a chance to be an everyday guy,” assistant GM Chad MacDonald said. However, as Sanders notes, the club's best prospects at the position remain in the lower minors. For now, former first-round pick Logan Forsythe figures to get an extended look at short for the Friars.
- Astros top prospect George Springer may finish the season at Triple-A, Brian McTaggart and Chris Abshire of MLB.com say. Springer, 23, is hitting .303/.410/.597 with 38 stolen bases across stops at Double-A and Triple-A this season. However, Astros manager Bo Porter didn't give any indication of when Springer might be called up to the major league club when discussing the outfielder today.
- Will Middlebrooks was called up to man third base for the Red Sox because he has more experience at the hot corner than Xander Bogaerts, Scott McLaughlin of WEEI.com reports. Many speculated that Bogaerts, who's hit .300/.392/.487 in 481 minor league plate appearances this season, would get the call, but manager John Farrell says the team prefers that he continue to take reps at third in the minors. The Sox want Bogaerts to be ready in case Middlebrooks struggles or hits the disabled list, according to McLaughlin.
Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann recently shot down rumors that his representatives at SFX and the Nats were exploring a multiyear extension, and the pitcher expanded on that statement by telling Adam Kilgore and James Wagner of the Washington Post that he doesn't expect contract negotiations to get going until the offseason.
“We talked a little bit in Spring Training,” Zimmermann said. “My agent and I said once the season starts, we’re going to wait until after the season. Hopefully, we’ll maybe spring something up at the end of the season or going into next season or something."
It was rumored last winter that the Nationals were interested in locking Zimmermann up in a long-term agreement but the two sides instead just settled on a one-year, $5.35MM contract for 2013. Zimmermann, a Super Two player, still has two remaining years of arbitration eligibility and is eligible for free agency after the 2015 season when he is 29 years old.
MLBTR's Steve Adams recently speculated that a Zimmermann extension could take the form of a five-year, $60MM-$65MM deal. That said, Adams noted that "Zimmermann's case is unprecedented to some extent," and the right-hander could earn more given the new collective bargaining agreement and the fact that the Nationals (like every team) has more money to spend due to TV contract money. These factors could bump the value of a five-year deal up to the $75MM-$80MM range, not to mention the fact that Zimmermann has raised his own value by pitching like a Cy Young candidate thus far in 2013.
If Zimmermann was confident enough to put off long-term contract talks for now, it seems as if he's also confident in his current and future performance to only accept an extension on his own terms.
“I’d be interested, see what they have to say. At the end of the day, it’s got to be the right deal for me," Zimmermann said. "I’m not just going to take a deal that’s team friendly. It’s got to be fair."
Jordan Zimmermann's name has popped up in extension rumors as of late, following a quote from Nationals GM Mike Rizzo stating that he had talked to Zimmernann's agents at SFX about a long-term deal. Zimmermann now tells ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (all Twitter links) that as far as he knows, there are no ongoing negotiations. Rizzo approached Zimmermann's camp, but the talks weren't very in-depth, according to the right-hander. Crasnick adds that Rizzo left the door open in regards to extensions for Zimmermann and Ian Desmond in an interview last week.
Rizzo's comment echoes a sentiment that we heard this offseason: the club would like to retain both Zimmermann and Desmond on long-term contracts. For the time-being, Zimmermann and Desmond are earning $5.35MM and $3.8MM, respectively, after avoiding arbitration and agreeing to one-year deals this offseason.
As MLBTR's Extension Tracker shows, Rizzo is no stranger to negotiating extensions with his stars, having previously hammered out two long-term deals for Ryan Zimmerman as well as a six-year contract for Gio Gonzalez. Rizzo has also worked out a handful of two-year deals for Craig Stammen, Michael Morse and Sean Burnett. I profiled Zimmermann as an extension candidate last week, noting that a five-year, $65MM contract would make sense for both sides, though there's a case for discussions to approach the $80MM range.
On Monday, it was reported that Nationals GM Mike Rizzo has approached Jordan Zimmermann's representatives at SFX about a potential contract extension. While we heard in the offseason that both sides were interested in such a deal, this is the first indication that the two sides have begun talks.
Zimmermann entered the season with three years, 154 days of Major League service time and is controlled through the 2015 season. A Super Two player, the 26-year-old avoided arbitration for the second time this offseason by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $5.35MM.
A look at MLBTR's Extension Tracker shows that few Super Two starters with three-plus years of service time have signed extensions, and none are particularly good comparables. Expanding the search to include non-Super-Two starters with three to five years of service gives a few more examples. Justin Verlander and Felix Hernandez signed five-year extensions worth roughly $80MM that included their final two years of arbitration. Dan Haren, Josh Johnson and Zack Greinke all signed four-year extensions in the neighborhood of $40MM that did the same.
In terms of overall value it seems the Greinke, Haren and Johnson extensions are too light. Zimmermann will likely earn more than $8MM via arbitration in 2014 and should see that salary climb well above $10MM in his final arb year. He doesn't have the track record that Hernandez and Verlander had at the time of their extensions, making $80MM seem rich.
Matt Harrison's five-year, $55MM contract could serve as a framework, but Zimmermann has considerably better numbers at this stage of his career than Harrison possessed when he signed his extension. Harrison's contract seems to be the floor for Zimmermann. Something in the range of $60-65MM over five years seems like a more reasonable target. Such a deal could pay Zimmermann $8MM in 2014, $12MM in 2015 and $14-15MM per free agent season.
Keep in mind, also, that the extensions for Verlander and Hernandez occured prior to the wave of new TV contracts that have left teams with far deeper pockets. Those contracts were also signed under the old CBA, when more players were hitting free agency. Today's game sees more and more good players sign extensions before hitting the open market, which is part of the reason that Zimmermann's case is unprecedented to some extent. Given the influx of cash in the game and the increasing imperative for teams to lock up home-grown talent, the $75-80MM range reached by Verlander and Hernandez in 2010 is probably no longer out of the question.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
For those who are visual-minded baseball fans, the Los Angeles Times has an interactive graphic that allows users to see a side-by-side comparison of two teams' salaries on a position-by-position basis. After you're finished checking out what that looks like when you compare the Astros to the Dodgers and Yankees, here's more from around the league...
- "The handwriting is on the wall" that Brian McCann will be playing for a new team in 2014, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Heyman opines that the strong play of Evan Gattis have given the Braves, who typically operate with a payroll around $90MM, the flexibility to let McCann walk.
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo told MLB.com's Bill Ladson that he's approached Jordan Zimmermann's agents at SFX about the possibility of a contract extension. We heard earlier in the offseason that the Nats were interested in a long-term deal, but this is the first report of the team beginning negotiations.
- ESPN's Buster Olney reports that the Cubs and Rangers also bid aggressively on Hyun-Jin Ryu this offseason but were blown out of the water by the Dodgers' $25.73MM bid (Twitter link). The Cubs bid $15MM and the Rangers bid $18MM, per Olney.
- Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN examines what has become a strong Twins farm system, highlighting under-the-radar prospects Josmil Pinto and Jorge Polanco. Mackey also spoke with former Twins skipper Tom Kelly about the improvements top prospect Miguel Sano has made defensively at third base.
As the Yankees and Phil Hughes negotiated their one-year, $7.15MM deal for 2013, the topic of an extension hardly came up, writes Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger. As a pitcher, Hughes says that he never expected a long-term deal out of the Yankees before reaching free agency. At the same time, it sounds as though he'd like to stay in the Bronx for the long-term. “The Yankees are the ones who drafted me; they’re like a second family. For me to say I’d be neutral [about leaving New York] would be dishonest," said Hughes. Here's more out of the AL and NL East..
- Jordan Zimmermann would be open to listening on a multi-year extension, but so far nothing has happened on that front, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. The Nationals and the right-hander avoided arbitration with a one-year, $5.35MM deal yesterday.
- Andy Martino of the New York Daily News (on Twitter) believes that Mets Triple-A manager Wally Backman would be a great big league manager, but he has a feeling that it will happen elsewhere and not with the Mets. If the Mets don't bring back Terry Collins next year, Martino expects the club to go with a younger skipper.
- Jair Jurrjens' contract with the Orioles is now a minor league deal rather than a guaranteed pact, but the pitcher says he's not overly concerned about it, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. The two sides first agreed to a $1.5MM contract with incentives potentially pushing the figure to $4MM, but red flags on his physical led to the O's insisting on a reworked deal.
6:12pm: Zimmermann will receive $5.35MM from the Nationals for the 2013 season, reports Bill Ladson of MLB.com (via Twitter). The salary represents a $150K increase over the figure Zimmermann would have received if he met the Nationals at the financial midpoint of both offers.
4:40pm: The Nationals announced that they have avoided arbitration with Jordan Zimmermann by agreeing to a one-year deal. Terms of the deal are not yet known for the SFX client.
Zimmermann, 26, said earlier this week that he and the Nationals were still far apart on a deal and GM Mike Rizzo had similar comments on Wednesday. The hurler filed for $5.8MM while the Nats countered with $4.6MM. Zimmermann posted a 2.94 ERA with 7.0 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 across 32 starts last season for Washington.
With Zimmermann under contract, the Nats have now settled with all of their arbitration eligible players this winter.
Daniel Seco contributed to this post.
- Despite Gio Gonzalez's alleged link to a Miami PED clinic and the potential fallout that could come from that, the Nats aren't looking to acquire a big-name arm as insurance. Rizzo says that he is always looking for depth, but the news about Gonzalez didn't "intensify" anything for the front office.
- However, the club could look to make a significant move if an injury or something else unforeseen creates a need. "If you're talking about a big-time trade or a big-time free agent acquisition, I would think that would have to be something that was set off by something that happens here in camp," the GM said. "But we're always looking to get ourselves better and deeper, and if there's something to be done that makes sense for us, we'll certainly doing it."
- Rizzo says that the Nats and Jordan Zimmermann are still a little ways apart in negotiations for a contract for the 2013 season. The right-hander made similar comments earlier this week.
- Braves president John Schuerholz told Mark Bowman of MLB.com that the idea of acquiring both Upton brothers “probably would have been a little too much to hope for” at the outset of the offseason. Even so, Braves scouts and executives weren’t discouraged. “Nobody stopped working because we thought it was unrealistic to get it done,” Schuerholz explained. “We just kept working harder to get it done.”
- Jordan Zimmermann's arbitration hearing has been set for February 19th, Bill Ladson of MLB.com reports (on Twitter). The right-hander filed for $5.8MM with the Nationals countering at $4.6MM, as MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker shows. Zimmermann says he and the Nationals have made "a little progress" toward a one-year deal, Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com reports (on Twitter). The sides haven't engaged in long-term talks.
- Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News notes that two of the Phillies' offseason additions -- Delmon Young and Michael Young -- could be defensive liabilities in 2013. It's far from a given that the Phillies will be adequate defensively with Delmon in right field and Michael at third base.