Though he is no longer a true ace, and more of a number-two starter, Jordan Zimmermann will draw a ton of interest on the free-agent market. With only David Price, Zack Greinke, and Johnny Cueto ahead of him, Zimmermann is going to be a hotly-pursued commodity even as he enters free agency ahead of his age-3o season. The right-hander, who has thrown a no-hitter, is coming off arguably the worst season of his career. The 3.66 ERA posted by the Wisconsin native in 33 starts was the worst full-season number of his seven-year career. From 2014 to 2015, Zimmermann’s ERA spiked by exactly a full run, and his FIP would indicate that bad luck was not exactly to blame.
Zimmermann allowed a WHIP greater than 1.20 for the first time since 2010, a season in which he only made seven starts. The .264 opponent’s batting average was also the worst of Zimmermann’s career. The rise in batting average coincided with a significant drop in strikeout rate, down nearly a full strikeout-per-nine-innings year-over-year. Not armed with blow-you-away stuff, Zimmermann does have to pitch to contact a little bit more than you would want in a frontline ace. Another red flag, is Zimmermann’s prior Tommy John surgery, but he has made over 30 starts each of the past four seasons, and has averaged over 200 innings. The Tommy John will be a sticking point when negotiating with Zimmermann, but not a huge one.
With Greinke likely to go quickly back to the Dodgers, Price is likely to command a deal worth close to $30 MM per year, and Cueto’s Kansas City struggles on the mind, the market for Zimmermann will still be very robust. He will be at least a $20 MM-per-year pitcher. With top prospects Joe Ross and Lucas Giolito ready and nearly ready for a spot in the Washington rotation, a parting of ways between Zimmermann and the Nationals seems inevitable.
So, which teams could provide a landing spot for Jordan Zimmermann?