The Detroit Tigers signed 30-year old starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann to a 5-year, $110 million deal. Is he worth it? And what does this signing mean for the rest of the free agent starting pitcher market?
Career Stats for Zimmermann
Look at Zimmermann’s career numbers: 70-50 with a 3.32 ERA and a 1.159 WHIP. His 162 game average is a 13-10 record with the same ERA and WHIP as his career numbers. He also averages 209 innings, 172 strikeouts, 2 complete games, and 20 home runs given up per year.
2016 Projections for Zimmermann
Both OOTP16 and baseball-reference.com see Zimmermann performing to his average (13-9 vs. 12-8). OOTP predicts a 3.03 ERA in 219 innings, slightly better than his average 162-game performance. Baseball-reference.com has his ERA up at 3.43 in only 181 innings. Are either of these seasons worth $22 million?
Zimmermann will most likely be the number 2 or 3 starter, behind Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez. Per year, Verlander makes $28 million, while Sanchez makes $16 million.
What Does This Mean for Other Free Agent Pitchers?
Notable free agent pitchers still unsigned (with 162-game average W/L records, ERA and WHIP):
- Johnny Cueto (14-11 | 3.30, 1.181)
- Mat Latos (12-11 | 3.51, 1.183)
- Ian Kennedy (12-11 | 3.98, 1.276)
- Wei-Yin Chen (13-9 | 3.72, 1.252)
- Jeff Samardzija (8-11 | 4.09, 1.278)
- Mike Leake (12-10 | 3.88, 1.271)
In most circles, the above names are, at best, number 2 or number 3 starters, (besides Cueto). But all of these guys have very comparable 162-game averages with Zimmermann. So could Mat Latos and Mike Leake fetch $100 million deals this upcoming season?
Cueto Career Stats:
Now that Cueto is a World Series champion (with a couple of stellar performances in the playoffs and World Series included), Cueto is sure to fetch a six-figure salary. It’s already been reported that the 29-year old rejected a six-year, $120 million offer from the Diamondbacks. OOTP16 had him signing a 5-year, $107 million offer with the Orioles.
Latos Career Stats:
Latos has shown flashes of brilliance throughout his career, but they are becoming less and less frequent. OOTP16 had Latos signing a massive 7-year, $147 million contract with the Nationals, and while I do see Washington as a potential home for him, I do not see that kind of a price tag. With his fall from grace last year, a one-year $4 to $6 million deal is likely, so that he can reestablish himself.
Kennedy Career Stats:
To me, Kennedy is a puzzle. Does he have any of his 21-4 (or even 15-12) stuff left in him? He will be 31 in 2016 and I’m not sure the Padres are confident enough in his abilities to resign him. I could see a return trip to the Yankees happening, who would probably end up overpaying. Look for a 4 or 5 year deal for Kennedy in the $80 to $90 million range.
Chen Career Stats:
Chen is a complete wild card in my eyes. He could easily sign a 1 or 2 year deal for $5 to $10 million with someone like the Red Sox. I don’t see a big, long-term contract happening for Chen, despite him having the best 162-game W/L ratio in the group.
Samardzija Career Stats:
The guy in the group who looks most like a pirate is also, fittingly, the most unpredictable. Though he has the worst 162-game W/L average, I think he has some of the best stuff in the group. If he can figure that stuff out consistently, he might land a 6 year, $90 million dollar deal somewhere (maybe the Orioles or the Blue Jays, if Toronto loses out on Price).
Leake Career Stats:
Leake now has a much better shot of signing a bigger deal than he would have prior to the Zimmermann contract. Though he gives up a lot of home runs, he can be a solid 3rd or 4th starter for a team with some pitching depth. He could resign with the Giants, or possibly jump to the American League with someone like the Red Sox. Don’t be surprised if he lands a deal somewhere in the realm of 5 years, $80 million.
We will see what kind of lift in salary these pitchers get now that Jordan Zimmermann has locked down his $110 million deal. I definitely see it having an impact on the contracts of the rest of the starting pitcher free agent field.
- Brett Anderson – 1 year, $15.8 million with the Dodgers
- Marco Estrada – 2 years, $26 million with the Blue Jays
- J.A. Happ – 3 years, $36 million with the Blue Jays
- Rich Hill – 1 year, $6 million with the Athletics
Career Stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com