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Roster review: Jordan Zimmermann

Oct 24, 2015, 6:00 AM EDT

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Age on Opening Day 2016: 29

How acquired: 2nd round, 2007 draft

MLB service time: 6 years, 154 days

2015 salary+bonuses: $16.5 million

Contract status: Free agent

2015 stats: 33 GS, 201.2 IP, 204 H, 89 R, 82 ER, 24 HR, 39 BB, 164 K, 1.20 WHIP, 13-10, 3.66 ERA, 3.75 FIP, 3.0 WAR

Quotable: “I feel like I took the ball every time they asked and did what I could. Some days I didn’t have it. Some days I was good. I’m not saying this is my last start. You don’t know what’s going to happen this offseason. We’ll see what happens.”

2015 analysis: Like many Nationals players, Jordan Zimmermann’s 2015 did not go quite as planned. He had a career year in 2014 and finished the season with two dominant outings, but that did not carry over into this season, the final year of Zimmermann’s contract with the Nationals.

Zimmermann’s biggest issues involved consistency. He had plenty of good outings in 2015, but too often let games slip away from him. He gave up four earned runs or more in nine of his 33 starts this season, which set a career-high.

One thing in particular that Zimmermann struggled with was home runs. Zimmermann allowed a career-high 24 homers this season, almost twice as many as the 13 he surrendered in 2014. Zimmermann also set a career-high for a full season in FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching), which further indicates it wasn’t bad luck for the right-hander, he just had a slightly down year.

2016 outlook: If Zimmermann had a season similar to 2014, he would have set himself up for a massive payday in free agency. He should still have plenty of suitors, but one has to think he lost himself at least a little bit of money by seeing his ERA go up by a full run from the previous year.

Also working against Zimmermann this winter is the depth of starting pitching expected to hit the market. Zimmermann is a very accomplished pitcher, but he will be behind David Price, Zack Greinke and Johnny Cueto. Also available will be Jeff Samardzija, Yovani Gallardo, Mark Buehrle, Brett Anderson, Hisashi Iwakuma, Scott Kazmir, John Lackey and others.

That is an unusually loaded class of starting pitchers. Zimmermann fits somewhere in that mix, perhaps in the top four or five, but it’s not like he will be getting the first call from most teams. It will be interesting to see what kind of market finds him given the abundance of options and the numbers he put up in 2015.

Zimmermann is expected to leave the Nationals after spending nine years in the organization. He become a true homegrown star, but the team could not reach agreement on a contract extension and their signing of Max Scherzer to a record contract last offseason all but sealed Zimmermann’s fate. Now he will likely find a new team to move forward with as he gets ready for his Age 30 season. If he does leave Washington, he will depart as the best pitcher in team history so far with seven strong years under his belt.

  1. tcostant - Oct 24, 2015 at 6:24 AM

    I will miss him, but know the correct move is to move on. BTW- I thought six years of mlb service time was needed to be a free agent?

    • trfwans - Oct 24, 2015 at 11:07 AM

      According to baseball-reference.com, JZ’s MLB service time on 1/1/2015 was 5.154 years. So now he’s picked up another year to make that 6.154 years. Free agent.

      So 5 years 154 days? Consider the source. Chase “close enough for government work” Hughes.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Oct 24, 2015 at 4:41 PM

        Cots has 6.154 years (i.e., 6 years and 25 days).
        https://www.baseballprospectus.com/compensation/cots/national-league/washington-nationals/

      • Section 222 - Oct 25, 2015 at 12:01 AM

        Um, Feel, before you start insulting Chase, you might want to educate yourself. As you say, 5.154 means five years, 154 days. But a year of service time is 172 days. (The baseball season is 6 months long.) So JZnn does indeed have (nearly) seven years of major league service. That’s how it usually works — teams are careful to bring someone up only when he won’t reach 172 days of major league service in his first year. That way they get essentially seven years of control rather than 6.
        http://www.fangraphs.com/library/principles/contract-details/service-time-super-two/

        Another example is Bryce. Before this season his 2012, 2013, and 2014 seasons amounted to 2.159 years of major league service. He won’t be a free agent until after the 2018 season.

        Of course, one of JZnn’s years was significantly shortened when he’s elbow blew out, and a second was almost completely taken up with rehab from his TJ surgery. So I’m not sure that “seven strong years under his belt” is quite accurate.

    • npb99 - Oct 24, 2015 at 12:07 PM

      I agree it´s the correct move. Focus on developing the young pitchers.

  2. sec112 - Oct 24, 2015 at 8:42 AM

    I know I have generally been in the minority on JZ. I think the Nats have made the right decision to move on, as I don’t see much reason to believe he will age well. It’s too early to know if this year was the beginning of his decline from his peak, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he has another decent year or two. But I think long time Nats fans have overrated him because he’s homegrown and was never as celebrated as SS, and thus we feel like he’s “ours”. He is a decent #2 who is likely fairly soon to be a solid #3, and will fall in the middle of the second tier listed above in terms of where his money ends up. For all his good seasons here, he was never a strong contender for a Cy Young award. And despite his no-hitter and strong DS start in 2014, he had some weak appearances in key moments (and on national TV) this year.

    I’ll be sorry to see him go (don’t mistake my realism about him for dislike), but I think we’ll be glad not to be paying him $20M or so a year come 2017.

    • sec112 - Oct 24, 2015 at 8:45 AM

      Ok – maybe toward the top of the second tier. But outside of Washington, he is not generally listed with those top 3 guys.

      • natslive - Oct 24, 2015 at 11:23 AM

        Maybe I am one of those Nats fans who values him too much but I would take him over all the pitchers you listed except Grienke and maybe Price. While 2015 was an off year by his previous years I believe he will bounce back and while I am very sorry to see him go think it’s probably for the best and he will do well wherever he lands. Time will tell which way it goes.

    • senators5 - Oct 24, 2015 at 12:55 PM

      OK, you are probably right BUT JZ is a quality guy who provides much support to his teammates on the bench and in the clubhouse. That’s am intangible that can not be measured by all those performance metrics out there today, BUT for the Nationals. team chemistry will be huge come 2016 and beyond. RZ’ s continued presence would and should be a strong plus.

  3. veejh - Oct 24, 2015 at 9:38 AM

    I just don’t think the Lerner’s are ready to shell out another huge contract on a pitcher right now. I’d rather shoot to keep Stras at this point. He was downright dominant once he came off the DL for the last time. Stras’ best games were much better than JZimm’s this past season. Thanks for all the consistent seasons, JZimm.

    • infideljack - Oct 24, 2015 at 2:03 PM

      +5

      • veejh - Oct 24, 2015 at 4:07 PM

        I think Stras had a break thru this year in his mental game. I really think he has finally turned the corner. He will dominate next year. Book it.

    • Doc - Oct 24, 2015 at 3:30 PM

      Did well for the Nats, but JZimm will move on, and in the real world of aging pitchers and lessening results, it is time for him to grab a contract somewhere else.

  4. ArVAFan - Oct 24, 2015 at 8:00 PM

    Back to yesterday’s topic: this article is worth reading. Turns out Price was tipping his pitches–and the Royals took advantage (there’s more). After reading this, you’ll have a better appreciation for the details of advance scouting–and you’ll be wondering if some of the Nats suffer from the same issues.

    http://www.si.com/mlb/2015/10/24/royals-blue-jays-alcs-clinch-pennant?xid=si_topstories

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