It’s no secret that the Cubs are looking for a top end starting pitcher to join Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta. After falling short in the NLCS, Theo Epstein made int immediately clear that pitching was their top free agency priority.
There are a lot of big names available this offseason, including former Cy Young winners. But according to Sports Illustrated, the Cubs are most likely to land former Nationals pitcher Jordan Zimmermann.
Sports Illustrated’s Ben Reiter ranked the top 50 free agents this offseason and which team he believes the player best fits with. Zimmermann, who was ranked No. 6 on the list, best fits with the Cubs, according to Reiter.
Zimmermann was continually overshadowed in his own rotation by Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and (more recently) Max Scherzer, but the righty has been a model of consistency for five full years now, in which he’s averaged 31 starts, 13 wins and a 3.14 ERA. Last year was his worst full season by ERA, WHIP and winning percentage, but in the two previous years, he finished in the top seven in NL Cy Young voting. The Cubs’ four-game NLCS loss to the Mets clearly showed that they need another top-line starter behind Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta, and Zimmermann makes sense unless Chicago sets its sights even higher.
Zimmermann most certainly isn’t the top pitcher available, he’s not even the best pitcher linked to the Cubs, that belongs to David Price, but he is a high end option. Despite a step backwards this past season, Zimmermann has a career ERA of only 3.32 and a WHIP of 1.159.
Signing Zimmermann would be somewhat of a second place ribbon for the Cubs. For as good as he could be, their top prize is undoubtedly Price.