Skip to content

Roster preview: Jordan Zimmermann

Jan 29, 2014, 6:00 AM EST

USA Today Sports Images USA Today Sports Images

Age on Opening Day 2014: 27

How acquired: 2nd round pick, 2007 draft

2014 salary: $7.5 million

2013 Stats: 32 GS, 213.1 IP, 192 H, 81 R, 77 ER, 19 HR, 40 BB, 161 K, 1.088 WHIP, 19-9, 3.25 ERA, 3.51 FIP, 2.4 WAR

2014 storyline: By now, Zimmermann has established what he is: A consistent, big-time performer who can be counted on to give the Nationals a chance to win nearly every time he takes the mound. There will be some added emphasis on this season, though, because the right-hander has an opportunity to catapult himself into a small class of elite major-league starters and thus set himself up for a monstrous payday (either via a long-term extension with the Nationals or as a free agent following the 2015 season).

Best-case scenario: Building off his first career All-Star showing last season, Zimmermann takes thing up another notch. He not only leads the league with 20-plus wins and a 2.25 ERA, he also tops all NL starters with 235 innings pitched. He’s selected as the NL’s starting pitcher for the All-Star Game in Minnesota, then adds some major hardware to his mantel with his first Cy Young Award come November. Along the way, he agrees to a 7-year, $150 million extension with the Nationals.

Worst-case scenario: Even if he’s sub-par, Zimmermann should at the very least remain an above-average, major-league starter. He could be victimized by poor run support, resulting in an 8-12 record despite a respectable, 3.75 ERA. And he still takes the ball every fifth day, aside from a short DL stint due to a nagging injury.

Most-likely scenario: It’s pretty easy to speculate what Zimmermann will be this season: The same guy he’s been the last three seasons. Assuming even moderate run support, he’s good for 15-to-18 wins, an ERA right around the 3.00 mark, 32 starts and 200 innings. Whether he agrees to that contract extension with the Nats yet … well, that’s still too tough to figure out.

  1. sjm308 - Jan 29, 2014 at 7:50 AM

    So, one of the keys in reading about JZ and Gio is that they have been consistent. Not just consistent but consistently good. That makes this fan feel pretty darn happy.

    While having just a little bit to do with this post, I noticed that JZ was not a first round draft pick in 2007. I realize the draft is a bit of a crap shoot but who was our first pick that year? I read lots of people who are critical of Rizzo saying its easy to draft a Harper or Strasburg and while he did have to sign them, yes, those were easy picks. I just look around baseball and see so many teams who fail in the draft and then I see us starting 3 infielders and a left fielder from the draft, with two or three of our 5 starting pitchers from the draft and our potential closer in 2015 also from the draft. I could be way off here because I don’t follow other teams but isn’t that a lot of draft picks making major contributions? Waiting to hear if I am off base on this. (oops, horrible pun really not intended.)

    Go Nats!!

    • Jeff G - Jan 29, 2014 at 8:00 AM

      JZim was our 4th pick that year after Detailer in the 1st and Smoker and Burgess in the supplemental round.

      • Jeff G - Jan 29, 2014 at 8:01 AM

        Stupid autocorrect. Detailer = Detwiler

      • Hiram Hover - Jan 29, 2014 at 8:41 AM

        Detailer – perhaps his new job if he cant stay healthy.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jan 29, 2014 at 6:32 PM

        I like “Detailer” as a term for the one-out bullpen guys.

    • alexva6 - Jan 29, 2014 at 8:21 AM

      Ross Detwiler 1st round
      Michael Burgess 1st round supplemental
      Jordan Zimmerman 2nd round

    • tcostant - Jan 29, 2014 at 8:21 AM

      Jim Bowden drafted Jzimm. The pick was one of the ones recieved for losing Alfonso Soriano as a free agent.

      This two year contract scares me. Jzimm basicly was quoted saying that the team and himself have different veiws of his worth. Moreover, he took less in 2014 and more in 2015, which I wonder if this is Rizzo way of exploring trades in next offseason if Jzimm price doesn’t come down. I just order a JZimm jersey and don’t want this to happen, but I can see the writting on the wall…

      • Jw - Jan 29, 2014 at 8:30 AM

        While Bowden may have been GM when Zimmermann was drafted, it is Rizzo who is totally responsible for him being in DC. Rizzo personally scouted him in Wisconsin and Rizzo made the case to Bowden that he should be drafted. If there is any one player on the Nats who could be considered “Rizzo’s guy” it is Jordan Zimmermann. There is absolutely no way Rizzo will let him get away to free agency.

      • natsjackinfl - Jan 29, 2014 at 8:55 AM

        Jordan Zimmermann is strictly a Mike Rizzo pick. Bowden didn’t have a clue about him but had to give in to the professional staff, thank god.

      • tcostant - Jan 29, 2014 at 9:06 AM

        So when Jim Bowden listens to his scouts, it’s his scouts pick. But every good pick Rizzo makes as a GM is his pick. Sorry I don’t buy that.

      • tcostant - Jan 29, 2014 at 9:10 AM

        Why didn’t Rizzo convinced Bowden to draft Clayton Kershaw over Ross Detwiler if he was so good at that?

      • Faraz Shaikh - Jan 29, 2014 at 10:09 AM

        as far as I understand, scouts are designated by areas. besides Kershaw was drafted in a different draft.

      • knoxvillenat - Jan 29, 2014 at 11:57 AM

        “Moreover, he took less in 2014 and more in 2015, which I wonder if this is Rizzo way of exploring trades in next offseason”

        If I’m not mistaken JZ took less in 2014 as part of the deal knowing that the Nationals had some expensive contracts coming off the books at the end of the coming season, most notable being LaRoche and Soriano. A good strategy by Rizzo, and IMHO, a good indication from JZ that he was willing to work with the team to structure the 2-year deal in a favorable manner for both sides. Hopefully both sides can continue to structure a deal that is fair to all for the future.

    • Faraz Shaikh - Jan 29, 2014 at 10:11 AM

      to answer your question, yes. nationals draft well. evident from meyer who turned into span, millone and co who turned into GG, lombo and co who turned into fister.

  2. nats128 - Jan 29, 2014 at 7:59 AM

    Get that extension done!

  3. Joe Seamhead - Jan 29, 2014 at 8:15 AM

    308, Regardless of what others might say, Rizzo has done a great job in a short time. Like you have mentioned, a formidable percentage of the roster is made up of draft choices and also the likes of Gio, Span, Fister, and Blevins are here by Mike trading prospects to get them. Someone said that the Nats farm system is now rated 18th in MLB, but again we traded a few highly regarded rising stars to get a few established players, thus going with exactly the philosophy that Rizzo has mapped out from the beginning.

    Jordan Zimmerman? As you said, consistently good. Very good. We can only hope that the Nats can afford to keep him, but often times the economics and vulgarities of the game today don’t allow teams to keep all of the players that they developed. If it becomes a forgone conclusion that JZ is going to opt for free agency no matter what, then Rizzo will have to trade him for maximum return as a hired gun to another team. Tears will be shed if that happens.

    • TimDz - Jan 29, 2014 at 8:27 AM

      I don’t see Znn getting traded, especially since the Nats have the bullets to contend not only this year, but next year. He will definitely get tendered after the 2015 season to ensure a draft pick. This is the genius behind the Fister trade. He could slot easily into the 3 hole in the rotation. Giolito may even be ready by 2016.

      My belief is that Znn wants to be a number one and paid as such. Depending on his next two seasons, he may end up pricing himself out of the Nationals organization. And, while it will suck and tears will be shed, we can take solice in the fact that we will still have a formidable rotation and will have some live controllable arms in the system (aside from Giolito, there is AJ Cole and Sammy Solis, as well as Taylor Jordan and Roark).

      • sjm308 - Jan 29, 2014 at 10:41 AM

        I agree with this and I guess you can’t compare franchises but David Price remains a Ray as they contend in his last year of a contract. I think we will go the same way & while I would like to see him extended, I am still repeating that Bryce Harper would be my number two target behind Desmond.

    • Doc - Jan 29, 2014 at 11:15 AM

      Seams did you mean ‘vagarities’, not vulgarities? Either way there are lots of both in base-ball! LOL

      • Joe Seamhead - Jan 29, 2014 at 12:45 PM

        Oh, heck, I think either word applies. I find the whole money thing and lack of loyalty on all sides to be rather vulgar.

  4. Hiram Hover - Jan 29, 2014 at 8:40 AM

    I’m looking forward to another great season from JZimm, but maybe not more than one more as a Nat.

    I’d like to see him extended but not at any cost, and there’s a tough reality here that Nats fans will need to learn to accept as we get some high profile players closing in on FA. The Nats won’t extend/resign all of them, and they shouldn’t, if we want this club to remain a contender in the long term.

    After some of the contracts we’ve seen this off-season, I don’t think Mark’s $150M/7 is out of the realm of possibility (I suggested something similar a few weeks ago, before the Kershaw and Tanaka deals, which only make those figures look more plausible).

    The Nats will never have the resources of the Yankees and the Dodgers but are richer than the As and Rays. Even when/if the MASN mess resolved, the Nats will remain below the top tier of wealthiest clubs. The model I’d like to see the Nats follow is the Red Sox, who do belong in that tier, but aren’t behaving like NY and LA. This year, that meant the Sox lost a player like Ellsbury to the evil empire. Nats fans need to get ready to do the same.

    • NatsLady - Jan 29, 2014 at 3:00 PM

      This is a very good point. You cannot follow the model of the Yankees or Phillies and retain players because you like them or they’ve been good in the past, or they are fan favorites.. (The exception, of course, is Tyler Clippard).

      You have to continually refresh the team with league-minimum players, meaning you have to draft or trade for prospects. That’s going to happen.

      Do you realize the youngest Yankee is Tanaka at 25?

  5. tcostant - Jan 29, 2014 at 9:04 AM

    Baseball’s state of union

    • Eugene in Oregon - Jan 29, 2014 at 9:27 AM

      Thanks for the link; a couple of good ideas in there (e.g., limit pitching changes, use MLB billions to better fund college baseball).

    • zmunchkin - Jan 29, 2014 at 10:32 AM

      I too like a number of the ideas. Thx for posting the link.

      And I would like to add one to the list. This is actually an idea that I heard Jim Bowden give in response to a question about the DH way back when. He was asked about the DH for the NL and he said he did not like it. The followup question to him was along the lines of why he wouldn’t want to make it possible for players who still had great offensive skills to continue playing. His response was that if that was your goal there were ways other than the DH to do that. He said that not having the pitcher hit removed too much strategy from the game. So his suggestion was a 10th batter who simply batted, perhaps combined with adding a 26th player to the active roster (to get support from the MLBPA). And do that in both the AL and NL.

    • tcostant - Jan 29, 2014 at 10:49 AM

      I like the pitch clock, that would be a big help even at 20 seconds.

      I heard a caller to Nats Talk (I think, it could have been the radio) propose that a simple two batter minumun be added to all pitchers. The more I though about that, the more I like it. I like it a lot.

  6. scnatsfan - Jan 29, 2014 at 9:35 AM

    Chad Tracy to the o’s. Not that will energize the fan base.

    • David Proctor - Jan 29, 2014 at 9:37 AM


    • ArVAFan - Jan 29, 2014 at 9:38 AM

      I’m just glad he found a place to play. Hope it works out for him (except those games when we play the O’s, of course).

    • Hiram Hover - Jan 29, 2014 at 9:40 AM

      Hold on – we have to wait for Dr. Angelos to sign off on the medicals.

    • shawndc04 - Jan 29, 2014 at 10:17 AM

      That’s a different Chad Tracy. It’s Jim Tracy’s son–never been in the Majors.

    • shawndc04 - Jan 29, 2014 at 10:17 AM

      That’s a different Chad Tracy. It’s Jim Tracy’s son–never been in the Majors.

  7. David Proctor - Jan 29, 2014 at 9:36 AM

    The problem with trading JZimm is that he’s not going to fetch nearly the return that people would expect. Why would a team trade for a pitcher with only one year of control and who is certain to test free agency? Nobody is going to give up a lot for that. The Tigers explored doing it this year with Scherzer and couldn’t find a decent offer.

    So I think the Nats are better off getting their two years out of JZimm and then collecting the first round draft pick when he leaves.

    • natsjackinfl - Jan 29, 2014 at 9:45 AM

      I agree with David, but hold out hope for the very remote possibility that Jordan signs an extension. Very remote.

      • David Proctor - Jan 29, 2014 at 9:53 AM

        I think he would sign if the Nats’ gave him market value. Which is well over 100M for him. I don’t think the Nats’ want to make that type of financial commitment to him, when they need that money for others. We’ll see.

    • TimDz - Jan 29, 2014 at 9:54 AM

      I pretty much said the same thing (above), but I guess the comment doesn’t become official until one of the Nats Insider cool kids comment on it…

      • sjm308 - Jan 29, 2014 at 10:42 AM

        Yes you did.

    • Hiram Hover - Jan 29, 2014 at 10:03 AM

      You’re probably right – that no trade will make sense for the Nats – but I can guarantee you Rizzo will listen.

      Remember, in the last few years, the Nats have paid $11-12M for the likes of Haren and EJax, so in that context, JZimm’s $16.5M pricetag in 2015 is hardly exorbitant. Plus, if he’s with that team for the whole year, they get to make him a qualifying offer and will get a compensatory draft pick if he doesn’t re-sign with them.

      So I wouldn’t rule it out entirely.

    • Faraz Shaikh - Jan 29, 2014 at 10:17 AM

      no harm in trying. if we can get at least one elite guy back with couple of B, B+ prospects, I would be happy. I will only trade him if we win it all this season.

  8. Theophilus T.S. - Jan 29, 2014 at 9:58 AM

    Mark continues to short-sell the market — and he’s going to lose his shirt. Tanaka gets seven years and $150 and projects to . . . nothing, because nobody knows. Zimmermann does what he’s been doing for two more years and projects to . . . seven more years of the same. In that scenario he gets really, really big dollars. Not saying I would pay that kind of money but that’s where it is going.

    Among the starting pitchers Mark’s reviews have a continuing undercurrent about “run support.” Most of the “likely” and “worst-case” scenarios are discounted to one degree or another because of “mediocre” or “weak” run support. Last year the Nats scored four runs per game (nearly). That’s pretty pathetic. It will not continue. They have good health and too many good bats. If any of the Nats’ starters falls on his face it’s going to be on him, not the offense. That’s why, for Zimmermann, and Strasburg and Gonzalez, my “likeliest” expectations are at least a notch — and in some cases two – – higher than Mark’s.

    The question of money brings me to a couple of news items in the past few days: (1) Phoenix expects a $90MM/year local television rights deal; (2) Ted Leonsis promises to “take back” the Capitals and Bullets rights from Comcast for his Monument Network. Ted Lerner in his octogenarian fantasies can never imagine a $90MM fee from MASN. However, losing the Bullets and Caps in 2016 will leave an enormous — nearly unbridgeable — hole in Comcast’s schedule . . . unless they fill it with something, as I believe they could do by buying MASN. That’s the reed I’m hanging onto for today — and I think the outcome would better than even MLB decreeing a solution to the current impasse/hostage situation.

    • David Proctor - Jan 29, 2014 at 10:01 AM

      “(2) Ted Leonsis promises to “take back” the Capitals and Bullets rights from Comcast for his Monument Network. Ted Lerner in his octogenarian fantasies can never imagine a $90MM fee from MASN. However, losing the Bullets and Caps in 2016 will leave an enormous — nearly unbridgeable — hole in Comcast’s schedule . . . unless they fill it with something, as I believe they could do by buying MASN. ”

      Now that’s interesting and something I hadn’t considered. I heard Leonsis’ quote, but I never connected the dots that way.

      • Theophilus T.S. - Jan 29, 2014 at 11:08 AM

        Comcast has universal cable coverage in the DC market (Baltimore, too, I assume) either through ownership or payment from cable cos. (e.g., Cox, Verizon). I believe the cable cos. are paying significant fees to Comcast for the rights (exactly how much I don’t know but maybe somewhere in the range of a $1/yr. per sub). There is a lot of push back in the cable industry (ironically, including Comcast) over rights fees, which must be largely passed along to consumers. Without the Caps and the Bullets no cable operator will shell out more than peanuts for Comcast’s lineup — unless they are replaced w/ something worth watching.

    • tcostant - Jan 29, 2014 at 10:30 AM

      MLB tried to broker a deal between Fox Sports and MASN, and Angelos basicly said he wasn’t interested in selling. One of the reason Selig is dragging his hands on MASN, his panel said a sale was the best option and he had Fox interested and then Angelos shot it down.

      Maybe MLB will push hard in the future?

      • Eugene in Oregon - Jan 29, 2014 at 12:14 PM

        MLB? Push an owner to do something? Surely you jest?

      • letswin3 - Jan 29, 2014 at 12:23 PM

        Angelos is unpushable (is that a word). MLB can do whatever they wish, but Angelos is, has been and will always be an arrogant self-centered litigious guy. Besides, MLB has no apparent leverage. The Angelos family will give up their rights to a portion of Nats media dollars only after Mr. Angelos expires. That’s just an opinion, and maybe a big enough check would sway Peter, but I he has always liked being a bully … and he surely doesn’t need the bucks.

      • letswin3 - Jan 29, 2014 at 12:35 PM

        One more thought here … it was Angelos who threatened MLB with handcuffing them to a courtroom door for years when they asked for owner approval to move the Expos to Washington. It was only when they (MLB) gave him what became the MASN deal that he relented. Ol Pete would sue Kraft for putting trans-fats in his Oreos.

      • tcostant - Jan 29, 2014 at 1:23 PM

        Push by saying to Angelos that MLB is going to award $90M+ per year to the Nationals from MASN. Moreover that triggers a O’s clause that they need to be paid the same, which Angelos says will banrupt MASN. Then throw the sale option up again, where he gets a pile of cash from the sale.

      • water47 - Jan 29, 2014 at 1:33 PM

        Lerners power comes when Angelos needs to transfer ownership. Either voluntarily sale or at his passing. The Lerners will have been in the league long enough to have built up some power/good will. They then can influence MLB in not allowing new ownership of O’s unless a fair an reasonable deal is worked out. What that is no one know but I would think it would be a buyout of the Nats rights or the ability of the Nats to have 50/50 control/ownership. I think the Lerners would prefer a buyout and separation from MASN.

  9. micksback1 - Jan 29, 2014 at 11:20 AM

    to add to David’s post, the positive is that Leonis and Lerner are good owners and businessmen, I bet they come up with a blockbuster deal for MASN that will be even sweeter than anything Angelos could have ever had

  10. CN - Jan 29, 2014 at 11:40 AM

    The run on Chad Tracy’s has begun. The “real” Chad Tracy just signed with the Angels, minor league deal w/ ST invite:

    • ArVAFan - Jan 29, 2014 at 11:48 AM

      At least I hope the two of them don’t use the same uniform number.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Jan 29, 2014 at 12:16 PM

        Isn’t it the UConn women’s team that has four of their top six players who have first names that are essentially the same? Some version of Brianna (albeit with slight variations in spelling)?

  11. natsfan1a - Jan 29, 2014 at 11:47 AM

    Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Oh, never mind. Too late for that.

    Dude, there’s a Wolf-a-rine? Want…

    • David Proctor - Jan 29, 2014 at 12:00 PM

      They’re also having a “Bobble beard”

  12. Section 222 - Jan 29, 2014 at 12:18 PM

    I know some of you are familiar with the Nationals Baseball blog because you also comment there:

    Harper (the blogger) has some good posts about the JZnn situation. Worth a look.

    I’m going to enjoy watching JZnn this year and not worry too much about what the future will bring. Personally, I think paying him big bucks in a long term deal will be worth it because he seems as close to a sure thing to both improve and be good for an entire seven year or so contract as anyone on our staff or in the pipeline. But I understand the reasons that signing him seems unlikely. Fortunately starting pitching is one place where we have some very good prospects (unlike middle infield). So we should be ok even if he walks.

    Finally, Kershaw was drafted in 2006, before the Nats had a pick. Det was in 2007. Can’t blame him there (although Jason Heyward and Madison Bumgarner were drafted after Det). The one that really got away was Mike Trout….

    • David Proctor - Jan 29, 2014 at 12:43 PM

      It’s foolish to complain given 22 teams passed on Trout, but man, imagine an outfield with Harper, Trout and Werth. Instead we got Drew Storen.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Jan 29, 2014 at 2:01 PM

        we have heard that with Strasburg as 1st pick, Nats wanted a safe pick for #10. I still can’t believe we let that go. It is unfortunate though. at the same time, I hope to hear about trout vs harper the same way we read about mantle vs mays.

  13. water47 - Jan 29, 2014 at 1:45 PM

    One the JZnn deal. I think it was meant to work out for both. Rizzo said we think you are worth $24 Million in the next two years and it will be guaranteed. If I give you that then let me get a low first year and you get a the high second right before you go to FA. It sets you up for future payments and will likely be the same as the Qualifying Offer we will give you in 2016. If at that time we can make a deal we will all be ready to go.

    Also, Rizzo is buying time. Which with a youngish team is valuable. Rizzo has two more years to figure out the deal to make.
    Maybe, Gio or Stras get hurt or Blow up and become a bust?
    Does he extend Stras, Fister Det or someone else?
    Does RZimm fade and the Nats need to spend more on corner infielders?
    Does Harper crush it and make his extension necessary?
    In two years, the Werth deal will be only 2 yrs $42 Million and his health may be degrading and need to move to 1B or DH somewhere else. .

    These are all things that can happen but RIzzo needs some time. Especially since JZnn is comfortable enough with his ability to pass on an extension now. Heck JZnn may be the top dog in two years and Gio is fadng and Stras is injury prone. Then the decision is easy to make.

    • Theophilus T.S. - Jan 29, 2014 at 2:26 PM

      I understand the sentiment to not spend/commit money before you have to. But that assumes owners are in control of the situation and they are not. Right now, with salaries spiraling upward, players have all of the leverage. Questions of a “hometown discount” aside — if such a thing exists — no player except one who is currently a FA has any interest in a five, six, seven-year deal, because dollars that look huge today are likely to be dwarfed by what teams end up paying in 2017 and beyond. Stephen Drew, a totally pedestrian player, is likely to set the new standard of silliness by signing with re-signing w/ Boston for multiple years at $14MM (or maybe more). If Drew can get that kind of money today, think what Desmond might get in two years? Almost nothing the Nats could offer today (with the Lerners’ bottomless Christmas Club accounts) would be worth forfeiting what Desmond or Zimmermann can imagine as FAs in 2016. So they might just as well wait it out.

      • water47 - Jan 29, 2014 at 2:44 PM

        I agree in general with your comment. And I think Rizzo identified JZnn as one who would follow your point. So, why do anything to harm the relationship. Make a two-year deal, relax and see how things play out. some benefit is that the long term deal will still be there especially if you do not piss off the player. Now, there are reasons for players to make long-term commitments earlier than FA. The biggest is that MLB contracts are guaranteed. a $20-30 million is a life changer.

  14. veejh - Jan 29, 2014 at 2:19 PM

    No way Rizzo pays JZimm $20M+ for 5+ years. We have some pretty solid prospects in Giolito, etc.,and it just doesn’t seem like Rizzo’s style dole out huge long term contracts for replaceable players. We need money to sign Harper, Stras and Dez, anyways.

  15. veejh - Jan 29, 2014 at 2:42 PM

    Baker close to signing. Nats still in the mix. Make it happen Rizzo!





As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at Click here for past audio clips.

Follow us on Twitter