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Washington Nationals Rumors: Does a trade for Jordan Zimmermann make sense for Nats?

Boston Globe writer Nick Cafardo wrote this weekend that the Nationals expressed some interest in Tigers’ starter Jordan Zimmermann, but does the possibility make any sense?

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Colorado Rockies Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

In discussing Washington’s starting depth earlier this month, Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo said he was happy with the top four starters, while noting that you never have enough starting pitching.

“You’ve heard me say that many, many times,” Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies.

“We’ve got four extremely good starting pitchers on the roster now, in Max [Scherzer], and [Stephen Strasburg], and Gio [Gonzalez], and Tanner, [Roark]” he said.

“We’ve got some good young arms that really pitched well for us last year, in A.J. Cole — his last six starts were great. Erick Fedde, he’s going to be healthy and have his second year with us next year. And then we go to the minor leagues and we’ve got depth there.

“We’re going seven or eight deep, which is what you need in the big leagues. But you never have enough starting pitching, and if opportunities arise that we see as a value, we’ll jump on it aggressively like we always do.”

Boston Globe columnist Nick Cafardo suggested one possibility for the Nationals in his weekly “Sunday Baseball Notes” column this week:

“The Tigers are hoping that the neck injections Jordan Zimmermann received at the end of the season will allow him to pitch as he once did for the Nationals and become a tradeable commodity again. Zimmermann is (17-20) with a 5.60 ERA in two seasons with the Tigers after he signed a five-year, $110 million deal. The Tigers would subsidize some of the contract.

“The Nationals have some interest as they search for a back-end starter.”

Zimmermann, now 31, put up a (70-50) record and a 3.32 ERA over his seven seasons and 178 starts for the Nationals, who selected the Auburndale, Wisconsin-born right-hander out of the University of Wisconsin Stevens-Point back in 2007 and rehabbed him following Tommy John surgery in 2009.

He’s dealt with neck issues in each of his first two seasons with the Tigers, with Detroit Free Press writer Anthony Fenech noting in August that Zimmermann has looked, “.... much closer to a back-end pitcher than the front-line pitcher the Tigers thought they were signing.”

“I’d like to think it’s still in there because we’ve seen it,” now-former manager Tigers’ manager Brad Ausmus told the reporters. “We’ve seen flashes of it.”

Zimmermann has 3-years/$74M left on his contract, however, and with the injury concerns it would be a risk for any team interested in trying to work a deal with Detroit.

How much would the Tigers have to subsidize or eat for the Nationals to consider the idea?

While a healthy Zimmermann as a 3rd-4th starter would certainly add depth to the Nats’ rotation, his injury issues and struggles over the last two seasons have raised many red flags...

Should the Nationals even consider the possibility? Do you buy the rumors of interest on Washington’s part?