Heyward, Hanson impress as spring play begins

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The Mets started off the Grapefruit League schedule with a 4-2 win, but it was the young Braves that stole the show Tuesday in the first game of the spring season. Tommy Hanson started and struck out three in two scoreless innings for Atlanta, while Jason Heyward, batting third and playing right field, walked twice and delivered a hard single through the right side of the infield in his three plate appearances.
Some notes from the game:
– The Mets scratched David Wright, Jose Reyes, Jason Bay, Jeff Francoeur and Luis Castillo from the starting lineup because of a rain shower that ended about an hour and a half before the game started. If that’s acting a little gun shy, well, it’s rather hard to blame them.
– Of course, the Mets did suffer the first injury in an exhibition game anyway. Elmer Dessens, the team’s second pitcher in, limped off the field in the third after taking a comebacker off his leg.
– In addition to reaching all three times up, Heyward had a steal of third base and an advancement to second on a wild pitch that he got a very good read on. The 20-year-old doesn’t need to hit 450-foot homers in order to impress.
– Kris Medlen, who was terrific in middle relief during the second half of last season, followed Hanson in the third and also pitched two scoreless innings. He may not get any starts this spring, but the Braves will want to keep him rather stretched out in case Jair Jurrjens has a setback or another starter goes down.
– Mets non-roster invite Russ Adams had the first homer of the spring, a solo shot off Chris Resop in the eighth that concluded the scoring for the day.

Ben Zobrist is the “Mets’ No. 1 target”

Ben Zobrist
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Ben Zobrist posted a cool .809 OPS (120 OPS+) in 126 games this summer between Oakland and Kansas City while appearing defensively at second base, third base, and both corner outfield positions.

His steady bat and defensive versatility make him a fit for just about every club in Major League Baseball, and the defending National League champions are among the teams in hot pursuit …

It’s a little odd to see the rebuilding Braves listed there given that Zobrist is 34 years old, but Rosenthal says the interest stems from a “desire for him to serve as [a] model for younger players” as the club prepares to open a new ballpark in 2017. Wasn’t that supposed to be Nick Markakis‘ job?

Zobrist and his agent Alan Nero are believed to be seeking a four-year deal.

Tigers agree to deal with starter Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Hey, the hot stove is finally generating some real fire …

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Tigers have agreed to terms on a contract with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. It’s a five-year deal worth around $110 million, per Jon Morosi of FOX Sports.

This should have a domino effect on a loaded starting pitching market. David Price, Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, and Jeff Samardzija are just a few of the names still out there.

Zimmermann, 29, posted a 3.66 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 164/39 K/BB ratio in 201 2/3 innings this past season for the Nationals. He had a 2.66 ERA in 2014 and threw a no-hitter on the final day of the regular season.

Zimmermann’s free agency is tied to draft pick compensation because he rejected a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from Washington, but the Tigers finished with one of the 10-worst win-loss records in 2015 so their first-round pick in 2016 is protected. Detroit will give up its second-round pick instead.

Video: Statcast’s 10 longest home runs from 2015

Giancarlo Stanton
AP Photo/Joe Skipper

Here’s a pretty good way to finally break out of that turkey-induced Thanksgiving tryptophan coma.

It’s a compilation of the 10 longest home runs from the 2015 season, with MLB.com’s Statcast technology providing data along the path of each blast …

Tigers in discussions with Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.

Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.

Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.