Multiple sources said Tuesday the Cubs are in talks with the Washington Nationals to acquire right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, a two-time All-Star who has averaged 200 innings over the past three seasons.
And he's just one of several All-Star caliber pitchers - along with All-Star catcher Russell Martin - the Cubs believe they can acquire if their strategy plays out according to plan, said one source.
Zimmermann, 28, would be a younger, potentially less-expensive alternative to the higher-end free agents on the market this off-season, though the player package to acquire him would have to include at least one of their touted young middle infielders, sources say.
One source said the teams have enough mutual interest that names have been discussed. Another said he expected the Cubs to complete the deal - along with Cardinals free agent Justin Masterson, who blamed minor injuries for season-long struggles in 2014 after a 2013 All-Star season.
There are some who think that Zimmermann is the Nationals best starter, but he will become a free agent after the 2015 season, along with a few other Nationals including shortstop Ian Desmond, and the Nationals can't sign all of their young talent to long term deals. They have to save some of their cash to sign Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper to long term deals within the next few years.
Who would the Cubs have to give up in the deal for Zimmermann? It's hard to tell, but it appears they would like to lock up Zimmermann long term. Wittenmeyer states that the Cubs would have to include one of their touted young middle infielders in the deal for Zimm, so my best guess is that it's either shortstop Starlin Castro, who is signed to a team-friendly deal through 2019, or Javier Baez. Castro is owed $43 million over the next five years, with his salary increasing from $6 million in 2015 to $11 million in 2019, so he is very cheap if he can keep hitting like he did this season.
I doubt the Cubs would deal one of their young hitting prospects unless they knew they could sign Zimmermann to a long term deal before he becomes a free agent. Zimmermann went 14-5 with a 2.66 ERA, 2.68 FIP, 3.10 xFIP and a 1.07 WHIP in 199.2 innings in 2014, and has won 33 games over the last two seasons.
As for the fantasy impact of this rumored deal, I don't see Zimmermann's value changing all that much, as the Cubs could contend in the NL Central in 2015. I don't see a big change in the fantasy value of Castro or Baez as well.
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