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Detroit Tigers Reportedly in Serious Discussions with Jordan Zimmermann

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Per a Tweet from Fox Sports’ Jon Morosi, it seems that the Detroit Tigers are in discussions with free agent starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann. According to Morosi and colleague Ken Rosenthal, the “talks have become serious.”

The fact that the Tigers are making inroads to sign Zimmermann isn’t surprising. Detroit is in desperate need of starting pitching and the former Washington National is one of the best arms on the market.

Without Alfredo Simon and Randy Wolf on the team’s payroll, Matt Boyd and Shane Greene currently project as the team’s fourth and fifth starters. This statement wouldn’t be an issue if the Tigers were a rebuilding club, but the reality is that Detroit is going for World Series glory. Having two pitchers in the rotation who posted ERAs of 7.53 and 6.88 isn’t exactly going to cut it.  

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As of right now, the Tigers rotation is Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez, Daniel Norris and a lot of uncertainties.

In other words, signing the former Washington pitcher would go a long ways towards making the Tigers a contending team again.

In seven years with the Nationals, Zimmermann won 70 games while posting a 3.32 ERA. Over those seven seasons, his cumulative WAR is 20.2. The starter really came into his own in the past four years. Zimmermann went 58-32 while pitching to a 3.13 ERA and a 3.33 FIP in 810.1 innings. He also fired off seven complete games, made two All-Star teams and finished in the top eight in Cy Young voting twice. He may not be David Price or Zack Greinke, but you can argue the point that Zimmermann is the third best starter on the free agent market.

What’s more, Zimmermann won’t command a monster contract similar to those that Price or Greinke will sign. The former Nat won’t be cheap (MLBTradeRumors.com predicts a six-year, $126 million contract), but he will cost significantly less than his free agent contemporaries. 

If signed, the 29-year-old would slot in behind Verlander in Brad Ausmus’ rotation. A one-two punch of Verlander and Zimmermann is certainly an exciting prospect, especially when you consider how valuable the pitcher was to the Nationals.

Over the past four seasons, Zimmermann’s average WAR was 4.2. Of the pitchers that finished the season with Detroit in 2015, only Verlander and Alex Wilson came close to that number. In fact, the duo’s combined WAR last season was only 3.9.

The right-handed pitcher has never pitched in Comerica Park, but given his success with Washington, he’d be an ideal signing.

Next: Why the Detroit Tigers Could Trade Jose Iglesias

Should the Detroit Tigers acquire Zimmermann, it would underscore the value of securing a protected first-round draft pick. The former National rejected a qualifying offer, meaning Detroit would have to surrender a draft pick to sign him. Because the team secured a top draft pick via a poor record, Al Avila would only have to surrender his team’s second round pick to sign Zimmermann.

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