Tigers sign prized free agent pitcher Zimmermann

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 30, 2015 7:35 PM

(Reuters) - The Detroit Tigers found the top tier, workhorse starting pitcher they desired in signing free agent Jordan Zimmermann to a five-year deal, the Major League Baseball club said on Monday.

The Tigers would not specify the terms of the contract but various media reports put the figure at $110 million.

Zimmermann, 29, had Tommy John elbow surgery in 2009 but has become a model of durability since, delivering at least 32 starts and 195 innings in each of the last four seasons with the Washington Nationals with a cumulative record of 58-32.

Last season he went 13-10 with a 3.66 ERA in 33 starts, topping 200 innings for the second time in three years.

"One of the biggest things is that they had me as a No. 1 target," Zimmermann said. "I was a second and a third option for others."

Zimmermann is part of a deep free agent pool of quality starters led by former Cy Young Award winners Zack Greinke and former Tiger David Price.

Detroit was pleased to be able to add Zimmermann, who figures to slot in between Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez in their rotation.

"We felt he is at the top end of a rotation, a horse who will take the ball and battle," Detroit's new general manager Al Avila said.

"The fact that he is a workhorse is one part of it. There's a competitive nature, and he also has the leadership, character and work ethic."

Last offseason, the Tigers lost free agent starting pitcher Max Scherzer to the Nationals.

The lucrative contract for Zimmermann marked a first. According to mlb.com, no pitcher with Tommy John surgery in his history has garnered a $100 million contract, but Zimmermann's track record made him a prime candidate to become the first.

(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue)