Zimmermann vs Price Comparison

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The Tigers just signed Jordan Zimmermann from the Washington Nationals for 5 years and $110 million.

The Boston Red Sox just signed former Tiger (and Blue Jay) for a 7 year, $217 million contract (that includes paying him $90 million for 3 years and giving him the option to void the rest of the contract to go earn more money).

Did the Tigers make the right move?

If we look at the return then Tigers got on the David Price trade PLUS signing Zimmermann instead of Price, then yes, absolutely.

But, what if we just look at the contracts vs performance of the two pitchers signed in the past few days to determine if the Tigers are on the right track?

The Tigers gave Zimmermann about half of the money that the Red Sox just gave David Price & the return they will get is not that far off.

If we look at the numbers over the past 4 seasons, Price is a better pitcher, but not by the margin you would expect based on the contract.

Here is a breakdown of their numbers (mostly traditional, emphasis mine):

 

Jordan Zimmerman 2012-2015 David Price

2012-2015

W 58 W 63
L 32 L 30
ERA 3.13 ERA 2.90
GS 129 GS 124
CG 7 CG 12
SHO 4 SHO 2
IP 810.1 IP 866.1
H 767 H 771
R 306 R 311
ER 282 ER 279
HR 74 HR 74
BB 151 BB 171
IBB 5 IBB 5
SO 660 SO 852
HBP 29 HBP 16
BK 1 BK 1
ERA+ 124   ERA+ 133
FIP 3.33   FIP 2.90
WHIP 1.133 WHIP 1.087
H9 8.5 H9 8
HR9 0.8 HR9 0.8
BB9 1.7 BB9 1.8
SO9 7.3 SO9 8.9
SO/W 4.37   SO/W 4.98

As you look, they have had very similar results in a lot of categories, but David Price has had a better ERA+ (Kershaw is the leader over this time frame at 176, Price is 5th, Zimmermann is 11th).

He also has a better FIP (a way to normalize ERA based on average defense) and Price also has a better Strike out to Walk ratio.

Those three numbers do show that Price is the more valuable pitcher, but even comparing these advanced numbers, along with WAR (Price 20.2, Zimmermann, 16.8) does not equal a pitcher twice as good.

Jordan Zimmermann, based on the numbers is about 85-90% of the pitcher David Price is and the Tigers got him for half the money.

Things can’t always be put into a box & explained this way, there are other factors at play (the Red Sox did not forfeit a draft pick to sign Price, Tigers did to sign Zimmermann; Zimmermann has had Tommy John Surgery) but, I believe the Tigers made the right move signing Jordan Zimmermann & saving money to add additional arms to the bullpen which will help this team more than re-signing David Price to a $31 million per year contract.

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