By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

One by one, the Tigers and Al Avila are checking the boxes. Needed a closer. Got ‘em. Needed outfield depth. Got some. Needed a #2 starting pitcher? Well, we’ve got that now, too.

The free agent signing of Jordan Zimmermann is a big one for the Tigers; a piece sorely needed for the starting rotation.

The best part about all of this is that Avila shared what his shopping list was for the off-season and he hasn’t wavered from his needs; he has only fulfilled them.

What do the writers at Totally Tigers think? Well, read on!

1. Evaluate the Zimmermann signing.

Holly – Jordan is ranked by most as the #3 starting pitcher available and the Tigers got him for a reasonable 5 years at half the price that Price will probably receive (with 6 or 7 years). So yes, I’m thrilled – especially since the Tigers got him for essentially what the Nats offered him a year ago.

I’ve had the chance to watch him often as I’m based in DC. Excluding Max’s recent arrival, I felt JZ was the most dependable of all the Nats starting pitchers. He’s a bulldog and total professional.

While all signings involve some risk, including this one, this is something that had to be done. The money doesn’t break the bank and the Tigers are in desperate need of pitching, especially guys who can eat innings.

Zimm was the best possible solution. Max won only 1 more game than him last year and if you compare Zimmermann’s stats with the Tigers’ starting rotation, he would have been the top pitcher last year in wins, ERA and WHIP despite his “down” year.

Given the Nats’ poisonous atmosphere among pitchers last year, I would think Jordan will be able to focus and perform even better this coming year.

Kurt – What choice did the Tigers have really? Without getting into the risks associated with the Zimmermann signing which are already well documented, you have to look at the choices.

To get a starter for the top or near the top of your rotation, you look at Zimmermann or you go up a notch to the $30 million-a-year club. A place the Tigers could not afford to be. If that was the case, we would have signed or tried to sign David Price.

What I like most about the deal is that it’s for 5 years when in the past you would have to sign a pitcher of this caliber for at least 7 years, which is a huge risk. I understand the reasons the Nationals didn’t hold onto him, but I also understand why he was chosen by the Tigers over anyone else.

Acquiring starting pitchers never come without risks and I really do have concerns about the TJS and the declines Jordan had during the 2015 season. But looking at the level of pitcher we were looking to acquire, he was the best one. And the gamble is worth it.

2. What does this most recent trade say about Al Avila?

Holly – I really like what I see so far. The Tigers have been the most proactive team so far in all of MLB since the Hot Stove season started. Al is receiving rave reviews in the national media, even from the critics who tend to be anti-Detroit.

The man had a plan – and was very proactive in getting out there before his top choices were taken. Especially significant is that he made his moves before other players were signed and the price bar was set for everyone else.

How many GMs can say that they already have their closer and top choice starter already in the fold? And to have it done even before the Winter Meetings are held?

It also says something positive about the Tigers for Zimmerman to sign so early and quickly. The national media feels the Tigers got a really good deal – juxtaposed with stories about Dave Dombrowski willing to outbid everyone else by $30 – $40 million dollars for a top pitcher.

So far, I don’t see any resemblance between Al and his former boss, which could be a very good thing.

Kurt – Al is sticking to the plan. There isn’t anything to question so far. And when asked what’s next, he spelled out the rest of the plan. They will sign another starter and they will acquire 1, 2 or 3 pieces for the bullpen.

The signing of Zimmermann is just more evidence from a man who does what he says he’s going to do, and frankly his full disclosure is refreshing.

Al knew what level we needed to operate on when it came to starting pitching acquisition #1 and Jordan was the best at that level and Avila went out and grabbed him.

He then made it clear that the next starting pitcher they acquire will not be as expensive but will still be a quality pitcher. So, I have no reason to question him; that is exactly who we will get.

The Zimmermann acquisition continues to validate that the plan is being followed without wavering. Avila impresses more every day and I can honestly say that I am pleasantly surprised.


  1. Not saying JZ is a bad deal, but I am an old school thinking guy, stats are important, but should not take over brains. Many pitchers do not perform as well moving to the AL from the NL. It’s a fact that AL lineups are tougher to go through, but the last word is kudos to Big Al who till now has done a good job.


  2. “What choice did the Tigers have really?” Down the road, I very much hope they choose to clean house in their all-but-useless farm system so that when a hole opens up there is an option to fill it that doesn’t involve a trade or free agency. This seems to work pretty well for the Cardinals.


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