Tigers Sign Jordan Zimmermann

Well, the first major free agent domino has fallen, as the Tigers have agreed to sign RHP Jordan Zimmermann to a five year, $110 million deal. While I listed Zimmermann as a potential landmine to avoid this winter, that was with the expectation that he’d end up getting something closer to the 7 year, $140 million deal I guessed, but this comes in even below the crowd’s expected 6 year, $126 million estimate; it is pretty rare that a high-end player signs for less than the crowd expects.

At this price, Zimmermann seems a good bit more likely to be worth the deal. With an assumed cost of $8 million per win this winter, plus 5% annual inflation, this price is almost exactly what you’d expect if you projected Zimmermann as a +3.5 WAR pitcher for 2016.

Jordan Zimmermann’s Contract Estimate — 5 yr / $108.4 M
Year Age WAR $/WAR Est. Value
2016 30 3.5 $8.0 M $28.0 M
2017 31 3.0 $8.4 M $25.2 M
2018 32 2.5 $8.8 M $22.1 M
2019 33 2.0 $9.3 M $18.5 M
2020 34 1.5 $9.7 M $14.6 M
Totals 12.5 $108.4 M
Value: $8M/WAR with 5.0% inflation
Aging Curve: +0.25 WAR/yr (18-27), 0 WAR/yr (28-30),-0.5 WAR/yr (31-37),-0.75 WAR/yr (> 37)

That’s certainly not an absurd expectation, given his career track record; he’s averaged +3.7 WAR per 200 innings up to this point, and has been at +3.0 or better in five straight seasons. Steamer has him at closer to +3 WAR for next year, as it’s a little down on him due to the decline in velocity and strikeout rates in 2015, and it doesn’t think he’ll be able to keep suppressing home runs as he did earlier in his career. But even at that somewhat pessimistic forecast, he still looks like about a $90 million pitcher, so this isn’t some huge risk for Detroit. If he stays healthy, this contract will probably turn out fine for Detroit.

It will be interesting to see what Zimmermann signing for less than expected will do to the rest of the mid-tier pitching market. I’d imagine Johnny Cueto’s agents aren’t thrilled with this deal.

Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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6 years ago

I think you should check your player link, Dave. =)

6 years ago
Reply to  Timman

Yes. The player linker thingy majigger didn’t parse that 2nd “n” or Dave accidentally originally typed “Zimmerman” then went back and added the 2nd “n” after it already linked.

J.D. Martin
6 years ago
Reply to  Timman

Seems fine to me

Johan Santa
6 years ago
Reply to  J.D. Martin

Yep, checks out.