Nationals telling teams Jordan Zimmermann is “available”

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Reports of the Cubs trying to acquire Jordan Zimmermann from the Nationals last week were mostly shot down, but now Bob Nightingale of USA Today writes that Washington is indeed “informing teams that Zimmermann is available” in trade.

Zimmermann has just one season remaining until he’s eligible for free agency and the 28-year-old right-hander is in line for a massive payday, so shopping him makes some sense considering the Nationals still have Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Doug Fister, and Tanner Roark in the rotation.

Oh, and here’s a potential added wrinkle: Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com wrote this morning that the Nationals are one of five teams he thinks will make a serious run at Max Scherzer. Would they trade Zimmermann and then spend huge money while also losing a draft pick to bring in a different ace?

Japanese Baseball to begin June 19

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Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.

The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.

The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.

In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.