A roll of the dice with upside
Last week the Blue Jays made a smaller trade that caught me by surprise. I didn’t expect them to have much interest in Bradley Zimmer, but it made sense since they were able to pick him up for depth bullpen arm in Anthony Castro.
Zimmer was once a highly touted prospect with 5-tool potential, but his career hasn’t worked out that way so far. He has struggled to adjust to the big leagues throughout his time with the Cleveland Guardians, and really hasn’t lived up to the first round billing at all. He was having a disastrous spring, and even the outfielder-needy Guardians couldn’t justify keeping him around (this was before Steven Kwan’s fantastic opening week).
When they first acquired him I really didn’t see a role for him in Toronto, but if Hernandez does end up missing significant time on the IL, maybe this is the chance that Zimmer needs to get his big league career back on track. He has a reputation as a quality defender up the middle, he comes with a left-handed hat that helps as long as he’s producing, and right now the Blue Jays look pretty smart for picking him up on the cheap.
If I’m being honest, I don’t know that I have very high expectations for a turnaround, but there’s enough reason to like the roll of the dice. As I already mentioned, I expect that Tapia will become more of a full-time player now, but they’re going to need a fourth outfielder and Zimmer just moved up the depth chart. With the occasional need for a half day’s rest for George Springer while he serves as the DH, and with Jansen already on the shelf (which pushes Kirk into more games as the catcher), there is going to be playing time available for those that produce.
Still just 29 years old, perhaps this is the fresh start that Zimmer needed.