Zimmermann’s arrival signals Tigers’ willingness to spend

  • Tuesday, December 1, 2015 1:01am
  • News

DETROIT — Jordan Zimmermann’s arrival in Detroit is encouraging news for Tigers fans because of what he can bring to the starting rotation — and what his contract signals about the team’s willingness to spend.

Zimmermann was introduced Monday after finalizing a $110 million, five-year contract with the Tigers. He was flanked at the news conference by general manager Al Avila and owner Mike Ilitch, the latter making a rare appearance in front of reporters during a turbulent year for his baseball team.

“I don’t care about spending money,” Ilitch said. “They get the players and I spend and I don’t worry about it, because they have good judgment. We’ve had good teams over the years, and it’s a lot of fun for me.”

Following four straight AL Central titles, the Tigers finished last this year. Detroit traded high-priced stars David Price and Yoenis Cespedes during the season and replaced GM Dave Dombrowski with Avila. With an expensive core of Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander and Victor Martinez that has shown signs of age, it is fair to wonder whether the Tigers missed their window of opportunity to win their first World Series since 1984.

But Detroit has been active early this offseason. The Tigers have also traded for closer Francisco Rodriguez and outfielder Cameron Maybin, and the signing of Zimmermann is an indication that the team still is willing to make a big financial commitment.

The right-hander gets $18 million in each of the next two seasons, $24 million in 2018 and $25 million in each of the final two years. He has a full-no trade provision through 2018, then can be dealt to 10 teams without his permission during 2019-20.

Zimmermann went 13-10 with a 3.66 ERA last season for Washington, striking out 164 with 39 walks. The previous year, he went 14-5 with a 2.66 ERA.

Zimmermann was the first major free agent to come to an agreement this offseason. He was part of an impressive market of pitchers that includes Price, Zack Greinke and Johnny Cueto. The Tigers made their bid for Zimmermann, and he was willing to strike a deal quickly.

“They had me as a top target, and other teams that were out there, I was the second or third option,” Zimmermann said. “I didn’t want to wait until January into February. I wanted to sign early. We knew what my value was.”

Detroit will forfeit its second-round pick in June’s amateur draft and Washington will gain a compensation selection, No. 38 overall.

Zimmermann was the first free agent to sign among the 17 with compensation attached.

The Tigers slipped last season in large part because their rotation declined after Max Scherzer signed with Washington as a free agent. Now Zimmermann is heading in the other direction, joining a Detroit starting staff that includes Verlander and Anibal Sanchez.

It’s the first major free agent acquisition for Avila, who took over when Dombrowski was let go shortly after the trade deadline. Reporters didn’t have a chance to question Ilitch about Dombrowski’s departure when it happened, so that topic came up Monday. Ilitch objected to the idea that Dombrowski had been fired, pointing out that the GM’s contract would have been up at the end of the season.

“I wanted to win,” Ilitch said. “I figured I needed to try and get somebody else.”

Now Avila, Dombrowski’s longtime assistant, is the GM, and the team apparently still had a decent amount of financial flexibility coming into this offseason. Ilitch was asked if he is prepared to have a payroll approaching the luxury tax threshold.

“I’m supposed to be a good boy and not go over it,” Ilitch said. “But again, if I’m going to get certain players that can help us a lot, I’ll go over it. Oops, I shouldn’t have said that.”

Even with Zimmermann in the fold, the Tigers may have their work cut out for them in a division that includes World Series champion Kansas City, an improving Minnesota team and a Cleveland rotation that has plenty of potential.

Zimmermann leaves Washington after a disappointing season in which the Nationals finished seven games behind the NL East champion New York Mets. With Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and youngster Joe Ross, starting pitching could still be a strength for the Nationals.

As part of the deal, Zimmermann would earn $500,000 for winning the Cy Young Award, $200,000 for finishing second and $100,000 for third, and he has the same provisions for the MVP Award. He would get $100,000 apiece for becoming an All-Star and winning a Gold Glove. He would earn $200,000 if he is World Series MVP and $150,000 if he is League Championship Series MVP.

More in News

The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Aurora forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Dec. 3

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Tuesday, Dec. 6

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Mountain reflections are seen from the Mendenhall Wetlands. (Courtesy Photo / Denise Carroll)
Wild Shots: Photos of Mother Nature in Alaska

Superb reader-submitted photos of wildlife, scenery and/or plant life.

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire 
At Wednesday evening’s special Assembly meeting, the Assembly appropriated nearly $4 million toward funding a 5.5% wage increase for all CBJ employees along with a 5% increase to the employer health contribution. According to City Manager Rorie Watt, it doesn’t necessarily fix a nearly two decade-long issue of employee retention concerns for the city.
City funds wage increase amid worker shortage

City Manager says raise doesn’t fix nearly two decade-long issue of employee retainment

People and dogs traverse the frozen surface Mendenhall Lake on Monday afternoon. Officials said going on to any part of Mendenhall Lake can open up serious risks for falling into the freezing waters. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Officials warn residents about the dangers of thin ice on Mendenhall Lake

Experts outline what to do in the situation that someone falls through ice

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Saturday, Dec. 3

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Molly Yazwinski holds a 3,000-year-old moose skull with antlers still attached, found in a river on Alaska’s North Slope. Her aunt, Pam Groves, steadies an inflatable canoe. (Courtesy Photo /Dan Mann)


2. A 14,000-year-old fragment of a moose antler, top left, rests on a sand bar of a northern river next to the bones of ice-age horses, caribou and muskoxen, as well as the horns of a steppe bison. Photo by Pam Groves.


3. Moose such as this one, photographed this year near Whitehorse in the Yukon, may have been present in Alaska as long as people have. Photo by Ned Rozell.
Alaska Science Forum: Ancient moose antlers hint of early arrival

When a great deal of Earth’s water was locked up within mountains… Continue reading

FILE - Freight train cars sit in a Norfolk Southern rail yard on Sept. 14, 2022, in Atlanta. The Biden administration is saying the U.S. economy would face a severe economic shock if senators don't pass legislation this week to avert a rail worker strike. The administration is delivering that message personally to Democratic senators in a closed-door session Thursday, Dec. 1.  (AP Photo / Danny Karnik)
Congress votes to avert rail strike amid dire warnings

President vows to quickly sign the bill.

Most Read