Jordan Zimmermann or David Price? The Chicago Cubs might be asking that question of themselves considering the price tag presumably attached to each player will be significantly different and will play a part in what the team can do the rest of the offseason.
Here are the pros and cons to signing each player:
Pros: Price is an established workhorse, who has amassed a .650 winning percentage while averaging more than 31 starts per season since 2010.
He also played for Joe Maddon and should know exactly what to expect coming over from the American League, where he’s been to the playoffs six times. The Cubs have had success specifically with former American League East pitchers, as the bottom of National League lineups simply aren’t as dangerous as their AL counterparts.
Price’s affinity to have a good time at his job would fit in nicely with the Cubs’ current vibe, and he’s a proven winner.
Cons: Price’s durability was nice for the teams who have employed him in the past, but the 1,500-plus career innings Price has thrown between the regular season and playoffs is bound to catch up with him at some point during his next deal.
Even if the Cy Young runner-up comes to Chicago at a bit of a discount, the price tag -- think $200 million total and $25 million-$30 million per season -- undoubtedly would hamper future potential moves.
And then there’s that 2-7 postseason record. That in itself shouldn’t scare the Cubs off entirely, but you’d hate to spend all that money and not get bang for your buck at the most important time of the year.
Pros: Zimmermann is a bulldog of a competitor with Midwestern roots that seemingly would make him a good fit in the Cubs’ clubhouse. He also has been durable with relatively low mileage on his arm. Since returning as a full-time starter from Tommy John surgery in 2009, Zimmermann has made at least 32 starts in each of the past four seasons, but overall he has thrown only 1,094 innings, giving him the same vibe Jeff Samardzija possesses: a veteran pitcher with a young arm.
He’s also a control freak on the mound, having never walked more than 43 batters in a season, including allowing just 39 in 201 innings last season. He also led the league in fewest walks per nine innings in 2014.
As for his high home run total last season, according to ESPN Stats & Information, Zimmermann ranked 55th of 58 pitchers in terms of home run distance (minimum 20 home runs given up) so it’s quite possible a few of those long balls won’t go over the fence next season.
And finally, Zimmermann is likely to cost about half as much as Price, which would leave the Cubs more money for other moves.
Cons: No matter how you spin it, 24 balls left the park off of Zimmermann in 2015, 11th-most in the National League. Hitters clearly have squared him up more during the past two seasons, as he had more hits allowed (204) than innings pitched this year. That coincides with an increase in line drives allowed (30 percent) during the past two years after previously hovering around 23 percent.
Meanwhile, there have been some instances of guys who had Tommy John surgery slowing down sooner than other pitchers years after recovery. So, like Price, there could be issues later in the contract.