Jordan Zimmermann is on the free agent market again, and this time he would cost the Brewers far less money than the first time.
When Jordan Zimmermann reached free agency after the 2015 season, he was in line for a big payday. The Wisconsin native wanted to return to the Midwest, but the Brewers were just beginning a rebuild phase and were in no position to spend $100+MM on a pitcher.
So Zimmermann signed a five year, $110MM contract with the Detroit Tigers and it could not have gone much worse.
In five seasons in a Tigers uniform, Zimmermann posted ERAs of 4.87, 6.08, 4.52, 6.91, and 7.94 respectively. He battled injuries and ineffectiveness. At no point did he really come close to providing the value of his $22MM average annual value.
Despite the struggles and the disappointments over the past five years, Zimmermann feels he still has something left in the tank and is looking to play again in 2021 after only throwing 5.2 IP this year.
Free agency this time around is not going to be the same as before for the now 34 year old Zimmermann.
Jordan Zimmermann On A Minors Deal?
Zimmermann was born and raised in Auburndale, Wisconsin. He played his college ball at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. In all likelihood, he grew up a Brewers fan and dreamed of putting on a Brewers uniform one day, like we all did.
Perhaps a return to his home state might make a difference for Zimmermann. The Brewers do have that state-of-the-art pitching lab down in Maryvale that they could put him in and figure out what went wrong for him over the past five years and correct it.
After his struggles in the past five seasons, Zimmermann is not likely to command more than a minor league deal with an invite to spring training this offseason. He’s going to need to build his resume back up if he’s going to get a major league deal again. The Milwaukee Brewers could give him that opportunity.
When he’s right, Zimmermann has proven that he can be an effective big league starting pitcher. He may never reach his 2014 peak (2.66 ERA in 199.2 IP) again, but he can be a solid veteran to fill out the back of the rotation and eat up some innings if he stays healthy. Despite his struggles, he still never walked many batters, holding steady at 1.9 BB/9 in his career
There’s practically no risk in bringing in Zimmermann on a minors deal. If he comes into spring training and the adjustments the Brewers and Zimmermann try to make don’t work, they can either stash him in the minors to continue to let him work on it, or they can release him and move on. If the adjustments do work, then the Brewers have an experienced veteran in their rotation for extremely cheap.
The worst that can happen is Zimmermann still can’t find his old form and is released before the season starts. The best that can happen is the Brewers find a diamond in the rough and supplement their rotation picture.
It’s worth a shot.
Almost every team in baseball brings in veterans like Zimmermann as non-roster invitees as a “reclamation project” of sorts. Last year, the Brewers had Logan Morrison and Shelby Miller as their projects. Morrison played well enough to earn a roster spot, for a short time, while Miller ended up opting out of the season.
Because of his connection to Wisconsin and his previous record of success, Jordan Zimmermann would be worth a flier on a minor league deal for the Brewers to see if he can reclaim his past production level.
Expectations aren’t going to be high for Zimmermann, but it’s a good person to follow and see what happens.