Report: Cubs trying to acquire Jordan Zimmermann from Nationals

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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.

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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.

 

Zack Wheeler will miss at least two starts when his wife gives birth

Zack Wheeler miss starts
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Per The Athletic’s Matt Gelb, Phillies starter Zack Wheeler will miss at least two starts when his wife goes into labor and gives birth to their first child, expected to be later this month. Wheeler, in fact, is not sure if he will return to play at all once their child is born.

Wheeler said, “We just have to see how things are here at the field and at the stadium. I’m happy with what I see so far. But things could change, especially once our baby’s born. I always think about what’s going on around me. Is it safe? Is it OK? Literally every single day. I have to just ask myself that. I’m going to continue to keep asking myself that every day.”

Wheeler, 30, inked a five-year, $118 million contract with the Phillies in December. He is slated for the No. 2 spot in the rotation behind Aaron Nola. Last season, with the Mets, Wheeler posted a 3.96 ERA with 195 strikeouts and 50 walks over 195 1/3 innings.

The No. 5 spot in the Phillies’ rotation is currently up for grabs between Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, Ranger Suárez, and prospect Spencer Howard. One of the remaining three could fill in for Wheeler when he needs time off, temporarily or otherwise.