Entering the off-season, Tigers new general manager Al Avila made it clear that he knew he needed to upgrade his pitching staff, and that would include likely adding two starting pitchers, one of whom would fit at the top of the rotation. On Sunday, it appears he made the move to get his man.
As first reported by Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Tigers signed Jordan Zimmermann to a five-year deal. Per Tim Brown at Yahoo Sports, the deal is worth $110 million. Zimmermann will earn $18 million each of the first two years of the deal, and then receive an increase to $24 million in 2018, and $25 million in each of 2019 and 2020. Zimmermann will also have a full no-trade clause the first three years of the deal, and a limited no-trade clause in the final two years.
Zimmermann spent his entire career with the Nationals, where he's been good for about 30 starts and nearly 200 innings each of the last five years, averaging more than three wins above replacement, with a peak of 5.3 fWAR in 2014. In 2015, Zimmermann went 13-10 with a 3.66 ERA in a career-high 33 starts.
Because the Tigers finished with a record among the ten worst in baseball, they will not lose their first round pick, but will instead lose their second round pick to the Nationals as free agent compensation, the 38th overall selection.
General manager Al Avila stated in the press conference announcing the signing that Zimmermann was an early target of the Tigers, stating he was the club's top free agent target this off-season.
In addition to acquiring closer Francisco Rodriguez and outfielder Cameron Maybin in trades, Zimmermann is the latest addition to the club as it looks to remake itself to contend for a World Series in 2016. Avila acknowledged that the club still has additional needs, with plans to add another starting pitcher, and at least one, if not two, relievers.