Sunday, November 29, 2015

Tigers Agree To Deal With Jordan Zimmermann

Right hander Jordan Zimmermann Bolsters Tigers Rotation for 2016 and beyond.  
(Photo Credit: Cathy T via HardballTimes)

Tigers General Manager Al Avila promised that the Tigers would sign a top three pitcher to go with Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez and today he got his man.  According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Tigers have agreed to a contract with right hander Jordan Zimmermann, formerly of the Nationals.  Jon Morosi of Fox Sports is reporting that the deal will be for an estimated 5 years/ $110 million.

Since 2011, the 29-year-old Zimmermann has compiled an impressive 3.14 ERA and 3.30 FIP and has  ranked 12th in MLB in the WAR statistic.  Despite undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2009, he has become a durable starter throwing 195+ innings in each of the last four years.

On the downside, Zimmermann had an off year - for him - in 2015 posting a 3.66 ERA, 3.75 FIP and allowing a career high 24 home runs.  Statistics at indicate that his fastball velocity averaged 93.4 MPH, down about a mile per hour from his career norm.  That is not be a big deal in itself especially for a pitcher who has not relied on a high strikeout rate (just 7.3 per nine innings for his career).  However, he allowed a .301 batting average against and .465 slugging average against on fastballs, the highest marks of his career.

So, one might wonder whether the ineffectiveness of his fastball is a one year thing or whether it will become a trend.  The good news is that his slider and curve still yielded good results and his overall numbers were above average.

Even with the caveats, Zimmermann was the fourth best starting pitcher in a deep free agent market behind David Price, Zack Greinke and Johnny Cueto.  Assuming the Tigers were not going to get one of the big three, there is no pitcher that comes without significant risk.  Jeff Samardzija was awful last year and lost more off his fastball than Zimmerman.  Hisahi Iwakuma has health concerns.  Scott Kazmir has never been stable nor durable.  The list goes on.

In the end, I have to conclude that a five-year deal for a pitcher of Zimmermann's caliber is not bad. This gives the Tigers a pretty solid trio of Verlander, Zimmermann and Sanchez at the top of their rotation along with a very promising Daniel Norris at number four.

Avila has been true to his plan thus far adding a closer, outfielder (even if he wasn't the most popular choice among fans) and now a top starter.  Zimmermann will most likely be Detroit's biggest off-season acquisition, but there is still work to be done.  Avila also promised a fifth starter and at least one more reliever, so we can expect more moves soon.

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