The heavy lifting of the offseason is finished for the Washington Nationals as we head into January. The additions of Jerry Blevins, Nate McLouth and Doug Fister were the big moves this offseason. So now we move onto the current roster and extensions that could be in order.
I will start with Jordan Zimmermann.
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Jordan Zimmermann is in Nats control until after the 2015 season and I don’t see Mike Rizzo and the Nats giving him the money he wants until then, or not at all. He is not looking to make a team friendly deal and wants free agent value for his services. Well, free agent value is outrageous and could put him in the range of say, Matt Cain‘s $127 Million. That is way too much money for a pitcher like Zimmermann. Don’t get me wrong Zimmermann has been good the last two seasons, but he needs to show more than that to get that amount of money. If he can do it for the next two seasons, then maybe.
The fear of injury comes up in my head real quick when I think about pitchers. It takes one pitch and he could end up on the disabled list and into the operating room with Dr. James Andrews for Tommy John Surgery. That is for any pitcher, but Zimmermann will be going into his age 30 season when he is set to hit free agency. Is it worth buying out his last two years of arbitration and then signing him through his age 33 season? I don’t think so.
The Nats also have to think about Stephen Strasburg who will be needing an extension very soon along with Bryce Harper. Those two guys still have to show they deserve a huge extension as well. The one player that needs one before anyone is Ian Desmond. Desmond has proved himself to be much improved and is letting his play speak for itself.
The Nats also have a stockpile of pitching sitting in the Minor Leagues waiting for a chance to get to the Major League level. The first name is Lucas Giolito. He could see big league innings in 2015 and no later than 2016. He is already in Baseball America’s top 100 and climbing. He could be an option to replace Zimmermann if the Nats let him walk in free agency.
You also have to look who is going to become a free agent the winter Zimmermann is. Max Scherzer, James Shields, Homer Bailey and Jon Lester will all become free agents after the 2015 season. That is some pretty good pitching talent hitting the market in which the Nats could go after to replace Zimmermann.
Zimmermann will decline the qualifying offer that the Nats will offer him and end up getting a draft pick out of it. So either way, you can replace Zimmermann with a prospect already in the system or by the free agent market.
The Nats could spend the money that Zimmermann is asking for more wisely throughout the team, instead of locking up over $100 million for a three spot pitcher in the rotation in my opinion.