The last time Jordan Zimmermann's name came up in rumors, in a quickly debunked story saying the Chicago Cubs were in talks to acquire the right-hander, Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo actually called the 28-year-old starter to tell him there was no truth to the chatter.
Will Rizzo be placing a call to Auburndale, Wisconsin again this afternoon?
According to a tweeted report by USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale today, Zimmermann is said to be available in a trade this winter if the right return is there.
The Nationals' '07 2nd Round pick is set to hit free agency after the 2015 campaign if the Nats can't lock him up to a long-term deal, and since no deal has been agreed upon as of now, it probably shouldn't be too much of a surprise that rumors are popping up:
The #Nats are informing teams that ace Jordan Zimmermann is available,but only if they get strong return,emphasizing it is not a salary dump— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) November 20, 2014
According to Nightengale, Doug Fister, who is arbitration-eligible this winter and headed for free agency in 2015 as well, is also available if the right deal is out there:
Veteran #Nats pitcher Doug Fister, who like Zimmermann also is eligible for free agency in 1 year, also is available if a deal makes sense— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) November 20, 2014
Before Zimmermann's name came up in connection with the Cubs, Rizzo didn't entirely dismiss the idea of trading one of his starters this winter when he spoke to reporters at the GM Meetings in Arizona.
"'The return has to be right,'" Rizzo told The Washington Post's James Wagner. "'The balance of the return has to be right for the player you’re giving up.'"
If the Nationals were to trade one of their starters, could they then pursue one of the big name pitchers on the free agent market?
FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal apparently thinks they could.
The bow-tied FOXSports.com reporter put the Nationals on a list of potential suitors this morning when he wrote about Max Scherzer.
"Zimmermann has rejected multiple extension offers," Rosenthal writes. "Why not trade Zimmermann and invest in Scherzer?"
He doesn't stop there.
"[W]hat if the Nats could trade Zimmermann for Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick and a bullpen arm? Both teams would have to think about it, right?"
Rosenthal listed the Nationals as a team in the market for a second baseman late last month when he wrote about Kendrick being available, this winter, but at the time he wrote that the Angels were looking for starting depth and a bullpen arm in return.
Could the Nationals trade Zimmermann for the second baseman they are in the market for this winter, add a bullpen arm and then sign a starter to take Zimmermann's place in the rotation? That would wrap things up nicely.
Chances any of the above actually happens?