A couple of days ago the Washington Nationals of all places signed the hottest free agent on this year’s market, starting pitcher Max Scherzer to a 7 year $210 million dollar deal. As it stands right now, the Nationals and former Dbacks executive Mike Rizzo have built a super-rotation in D.C: Scherzer, Jordan Zimmerman, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Doug Fister, and Tanner Roark.
Before this off-season began, the Nationals made it pretty clear that they had to trade one of their starting pitchers. Right now according to multiple reports, the Nationals are listening to offers for both Zimmerman, and Strasburg, who was considered an untouchable just a few seasons ago. Here is what Jon Morosi of Fox Sports said about both pitchers on twitter.
Washington has reportedly been talking to multiple teams about a trade for Zimmerman, who is more likely to be moved, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the Diamondbacks are involved.
The Dbacks have also been linked to free agent ace James Shields who is still unsigned.
The Dbacks are in desperate need of innings eaters at the top of the rotation. The Snakes don’t have anything that comes close to a true ace, and only two pitchers, Josh Collmenter and Wade Miley threw more than 150 innings last season, and Miley is in Boston. Collmenter’s fastball averages 88mph, and while he pitched well at the top of the rotation last season, that isn’t ace material.
Over the past three seasons, Zimmerman has averaged 32 starts, and 202.5 innings a season. He is durable, reliable, and he is a veteran that is good in the clubhouse, and can lead this young staff. Not to mention last year was his best season in the big leagues. He posted an FIP of 2.68, an ERA+ of 141, and an unbelievable 6.28 K/BB ratio.
Over his career, the veteran right-hander has held RHB to a .242 clip, and LHB to a .256 average. He also gets ahead in count more often than most pitchers, and his career HR/FB ratio of 8.7% is above league average, which is important to keep in mind when potentially pitching the majority of your games at Chase Field.
Zimmerman is also a ground ball pitcher. Over his career he has a 43.2 ground ball percentage, compared to a 35.1 fly ball percentage, which the Diamondbacks could use more of. A fly ball pitcher has never been a good fit for the Dbacks.
If I were the Diamondbacks I would seriously consider making a run for his services. Keep in mind, his asking price is going to pretty high considering the amount of teams that are interested in him, and Diamondbacks G.M. Dave Stewart has already stated in the past that he doesn’t want to trade depth or assets. However, the Dbacks desperately need a front line starter, and Zimmerman certainly fits the bill.
As far as Strasburg goes, he is younger, and has the higher upside, and might be more enticing to the Dbacks considering the Dbacks have an extra year of control over him. Like Zimmerman, Strasburg posted a great K/BB ratio of 5.36, with a 2.94 FIP, and a 119 ERA+. He led the N.L. in strikeouts with 264, and he started the most games (34), and threw the most innings (215.0) of his young career.
The 26 year old right-hander did give up 23 HR’s last year, which is concerning, but he is even more of a ground ball pitcher than Zimmerman is, posting a career ground ball percentage of 47.0%, and a career fly ball percentage of 31.9%.
Strasburg was a 4.3 win player last season, and Zimmerman posted a 5.2 WAR. Both are far better than what the Dbacks have right now, and its really not close.
Either pitcher would a great addition, but Zimmerman is more consistent, so I would rather have him. I wouldn’t be surprised if Stewart prefers Strasburg simply because of team control.
This will be an intriguing story to follow for the rest of the off-season!