On this date five years ago, the Tigers agreed to terms with Jordan Zimmermann on a five-year, $110MM deal. The Wisconsin native expressed a preference to return to the Midwest after spending the first eight-plus years of his pro career in the Nationals’ organization.
At the time, Zimmermann looked a reliable bet to log #2 starter caliber production. Between 2013-15, the right-hander had tossed 614.2 innings of 3.19 ERA/3.27 FIP ball for Washington. He wasn’t overpowering, but Zimmermann threw a ton of strikes, avoided barrels, and punched out enough batters to become a high-end starter. If anything, the deal looked a bit team-friendly at the time of signing. Entering the offseason, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes had projected Zimmermann to pull down $126MM over six years.
Unfortunately, things didn’t play out anywhere near as hoped. Zimmermann went on the injured list twice in 2016 and was limited to 105.1 innings of 4.87 ERA ball that first season. Things continued to trend down from there. Over the next three seasons, Zimmermann managed just a 5.80 ERA, with opposing hitters posting a .299/.339/.518 line against him. He missed almost all of this past season after being diagnosed with a forearm strain but finished the year healthy.
Zimmermann is now a free agent, and he’ll almost certainly have to work his way back onto a team’s roster via a minor-league deal. As of May, the 34-year-old said he had no interest in retiring any time soon.