The Milwaukee Brewers have announced the signing of former Tigers and Nationals RHP Jordan Zimmermann to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training.
It just made too much sense. For Zimmermann, a native of Auburndale, Wisconsin, signing with the Brewers meant the opportunity to come back home and play for the team he loved growing up. For the Brewers, it meant a veteran reclamation project with a hometown player and a possible cheap rotation option.
When Zimmermann hit free agency for the first time back in 2016, he was looking to head back to the Midwest, to be closer to home instead of being out on the east coast in Washington, DC. The Brewers may have been a place he wanted to go but at that time the Crew was starting a rebuild process and weren’t going to be in the market.
So instead, he signed a five year, $110MM contract with the Detroit Tigers. It went poorly. He never posted an ERA below 4.50 and battled injuries as well.
Jordan Zimmermann can get a fresh start in 2021 with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Despite his pitching struggles over the last five years, he’s still maintained strong command and hasn’t walked many batters with a 1.9 BB/9 for his career and a 2.2 BB/9 with the Tigers. There’s still some ability there.
The good news for Zimmermann, 34, is that the Brewers have this beautiful, mysterious pitching lab that no one on the outside is allowed to see where they can work on him and figure out what’s gone wrong. They did that with Corbin Burnes in 2019 and look what happened to him in 2020.
If they can make some changes to Zimmermann to keep him healthy and keep the ball in the ballpark, then he can be a serviceable option in the back end of the rotation. He likely won’t get back to his peak form from when he was with the Nationals, but he can contribute in a positive way.
Zimmermann is a pitch-to-contact kind of guy, not striking out or walking many batters, and that contact has been his undoing the past few years. There wasn’t a gradual progression from being effective to ineffective, suggesting there was some kind of change that happened in Detroit that was never addressed. Perhaps the Brewers feel they can find it and fix it so he doesn’t allow so much hard contact.
The Brewers could use a veteran starter to fill out the rotation and provide some experienced leadership to a very young pitching staff and Zimmermann may be just that.
There’s zero risk to this deal, since his minors contract is not guaranteed and he can be cut before the season starts. But there’s plenty of potential reward as Zimmermann could thrive with a new organization, a new pitching philosophy, and being with his hometown team.
With the addition of Zimmermann, the Brewers now have two former UW-Stevens Point players in their organization with J.P. Feyereisen being the other.