Those overnight rumors had an air of “seriousness” to them, and, sure enough, according to Jon Heyman, Jordan Zimmermann has become the first major free agent to sign this offseason, agreeing to a deal with the Tigers.
Jon Morosi, who originally broke word of those serious talks, reports that the deal is expected to be worth around $110 million over five years. The deal, as always, is pending a physical.
At about $22 million annually, Zimmermann, 29, is getting about what you’d expect a pitcher like him to get in this market. He comes with questions about his down 2015 and his previous Tommy John surgery, but he’s been a very good to great starter going on a half-decade now. Various projections typically had him in the six-year, $120 million range.
I can’t help but wonder, though, if this was one fewer year than he might have been hoping for, and I wonder if that was the product of an extremely robust pitching crop in free agency. Not every pitcher – not even every top tier pitcher – is going to be able to hold out and not risk a free-fall come February. So, then, Zimmermann signed early, getting what he could get, and it’s not like it’s a below-market deal or anything.
[adinserter block=”1″]How does this impact the rest of the market? Well, aside from turning teams like the Dodgers, Giants, and Diamondbacks more firmly to other pitchers, the Zimmermann deal will set a baseline off of which other starters can try and negotiate. Teams will point to the five years as the limiting factor, while players might point to the $22 million AAV as angle for negotiations.
Either way, I do think we’ll see activity pick up now – though that was always the case with the Winter Meetings starting a week from Monday, and the Thanksgiving holiday in the rearview.
As for the Cubs, they seemed not to be seriously involved with Zimmermann despite earlier rumors to the contrary. Instead, it seems more likely that, in free agency, they’ll either go very big (David Price, Zack Greinke), or will drop down into the second tier (Jeff Samardzija, John Lackey), rather than going after guys like Zimmermann or Johnny Cueto.