10:30 p.m. EST update: CSNChicago’s Patrick Mooney is among the chorus shooting down the Zimmerman-to-the-Cubs rumor, reporting that there’s nothing going on between the two teams.
Multiple sources told the Chicago Sun-Times’ Gordon Wittenmyer that the Cubs are actively engaged in talks to acquire Jordan Zimmermann from the Nationals, though without any mention of whom the Cubs might be giving up.
From the report:
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.
Zimmermann is due $16.5 million next year in his final year before free agency. He signed a backloaded two-year, $24 million deal a year ago that covered his last two seasons of arbitration.
The 28-year-old right-hander was one of the NL’s top five pitchers last season, going 14-5 with a 2.66 ERA and 182 strikeouts in 199 2/3 innings. Over the last three years, he’s 45-22 with a 2.96 ERA and more than four strikeouts for each walk he’s allowed (496/112 K/BB in 608 2/3 IP).
The Nationals have the pitching depth to be able to afford to trade Zimmermann, though they certainly wouldn’t part with him lightly. The Cubs would be an ideal suitor, with several possible long-term options to fill the Nationals’ hole at second base. Those options include Starlin Castro, Addison Russell, Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara. Russell for Zimmermann straight up might make the most sense. The Nationals would probably want more than Alcantara alone, and it’s unclear whether the Cubs would part with Baez in a one-for-one; he was a disappointment after being called up last season, but he has the bat speed to become a superstar if he learns to lay off bad pitches.