Milwaukee Brewers Jordan Zimmermann watch will Washington Nationals trade pitcher to team whose fans saw Packers lose in playoffs?
Despair not, Wisconsin sports fans. Your favorite team remains involved in a competition certain to grip the nation’s attention over the next two weeks.
Which team will trade for Jordan Zimmermann?
See? Sunday’s fourth-quarter collapse in Seattle actually was for the best. Now you’ll be able to devote the proper time to the Milwaukee Brewers’ courtship of a certain right-handed pitcher from Auburndale, Wis., and Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
Zimmermann’s local ties — and career year in 2014 — make him the dream candidate to replace Yovani Gallardo in the Milwaukee rotation, once the trade sending Gallardo to Texas is finalized.
The Washington Nationals have made Zimmermann available on the trade market because of the manner in which the Max Scherzer signing has stretched their payroll. The Nationals also don’t appear close to signing Zimmermann to a multiyear contract extension, and he will be eligible for free agency after the 2015 season.
Any team that acquires Zimmermann now does so with the understanding that it may take around $150 million to sign him long-term. On the surface, the Brewers don’t look like much of a match. Their payroll reflects the fact that they play in one of the nation’s smallest television markets.
But look a little closer.
For one thing, the Brewers’ only postseason berths in the last 30 years came when general manager Doug Melvin traded prospects for short-term aces — CC Sabathia in 2008 and Zack Greinke prior to the 2011 season. Melvin has acted boldly — and it turned out, correctly — in the high-end pitching marketplace before.
Moreover, the Brewers would have a better chance to sign Zimmermann than you might think. Not including Gallardo, the Brewers have five players — Aramis Ramirez, Kyle Lohse, Jonathan Broxton, Adam Lind, and Gerardo Parra — earning just shy of $50 million combined in salary this year who will be eligible for free agency (or on option years) after the 2015 season.
That’s a tremendous amount of available cash for a team that must keep pace with National League Central rivals in St. Louis and Chicago that have begun (or are about to initiate) substantial payroll increases of their own. The Brewers also could pursue free agent James Shields, the top starting pitcher on the open market now that Scherzer is off the board.
And with Ryan Braun’s future production — and marketing potential — very much in doubt, the addition of a Wisconsin native like Zimmermann would rebuild goodwill and enthusiasm with the ticket-buying public.
Besides, Packers fans could use a little good news.