Notes and quotes from Zimmermann press conference
As I wrote for the site off the press conference, Jordan Zimmermann and the Tigers were a match of two sides with a mutual interest in getting a deal done early. Part of the reason was a shared comfort level; Zimmermann felt good about Detroit and the Tigers had prioritized Zimmermann early. Another part was a wariness of what might happen if they wait.
Zimmermann potentially could’ve gotten a bigger deal had he waited for David Price and Zack Greinke to sign, some admit. But he had no way of knowing what team would’ve been in position to make the offer, and how comfortable he would be with it. By moving early in the game of musical chairs, at least he had a choice.
“I knew what my value was and we got semi-close to what I was worth,” Zimmermann said in a smaller group session after his larger press conference. “We were going to jump early when the Tigers got to it. Obviously it’s nice to get close to home, and with a big ballpark, which I really like. I think it’s a perfect fit.
“Obviously if we didn’t get what I was worth, then we would’ve waited, played it out. But we got what we wanted and the team is a perfect fit, so it was a no-brainer.”
Asked if they could’ve benefited from waiting out the market, given their position as a team that doesn’t have to give up its first-round draft pick to sign any free agent, general manager Al Avila hesitated.
“Actually, it works both ways,” he said. “In some cases, there’s going to be certain guys that maybe the cost increases, and in some cases maybe the cost decreases. You really don’t know until it all plays out. It’s unpredictable.”
Word of mouth
While Zimmermann acknowledged that playing close to his Wisconsin home was a factor in his decision, he said it wasn’t a priority. Instead, Detroit’s appeal had a lot more to do with its early interest in him as a primary option rather than a what-if situation.
Nor, Zimmermann added, did word of mouth play a major factor for him with former teammates. Though he pitched in the same Nationals rotation this past season as former Tigers teammates Max Scherzer and Doug Fister, he said he only sought out Fister’s advice for minor issues, not a big-picture feel for the clubhouse and the city.
“I didn’t want to give him too much information,” Zimmermann said, “but he told me the best places to live in spring training, just small things like that. I haven’t talked with him a whole lot.”
By contrast, Fister had more feedback for Scherzer when he made the jump from Detroit to Washington as a free agent last winter.
Zimmermann went from a sub-.300 BABIP and sub-.270 batting average against fastballs in his history to a .309 BABIP and a .456 slugging percentage against his fastball this past season. That played a seemingly significant reason behind his jump in home runs allowed to 24, a career high and his first time over 20 despite another season of heavy work.
“I’m not concerned about it at all,” Zimmermann said. “I might have left a few more balls over the middle of plate and they just happened to go out. I remember a few home runs were they were really good pitches up and in, where I like to live. Stuff like that’s going to happen. Hopefully this big ballpark’s going to help me out.”