The Blue Jays have designated outfielder Bradley Zimmer for assignment, according to a club announcement. The move opens a spot on the active roster for George Springer, who has been activated from the 10-day injured list.
Zimmer, 29, has held down a spot on the Toronto roster since being acquired in an Opening Day trade that sent righty Anthony Castro back to Cleveland. He’s had an extremely limited role this season and struggled mightily when plugged into the lineup, hitting just .105/.209/.237 on the season. Of course, despite appearing in 77 games this year, Zimmer has just 87 plate appearances — a total that’s reflective of his status as a pure late-game defensive replacement and pinch-running option. He’s posted solid numbers with the glove and ranks in the 95th percentile in Statcast’s average sprint speed, but it’s hard to overlook the glaring level of offensive output.
That said, it’s surely difficult for anyone to perform with such sparse opportunities to see big league pitching in a competitive setting. Zimmer had never hit much prior to the 2022 campaign, but he at least entered the year with a .226/.310/.348 batting line in 858 big league plate appearances. Were he able to replicate that line while still functioning in a late-game substitute role, he’d make for a fine fourth outfielder, but the Jays seemingly feel as though the roster spot could be better used elsewhere.
Zimmer was the 21st overall pick out of the University of San Francisco back in 2014. Current Toronto general manager Ross Atkins was Cleveland’s farm director at the time of Zimmer’s selection and surely knows him quite well after spending several years in that role while Zimmer developed into one of the game’s most highly touted outfield prospects. A sky-high strikeout rate and some glaring struggles against left-handers have kept Zimmer from ever reaching that ceiling, however, and when the Jays added Jackie Bradley Jr. on a big league deal last week, it seemed quite likely that Zimmer’s Jays days were numbered.
Trades of anyone who’s been on a Major League roster are prohibited at this point in the season, so the only resolution for Zimmer’s DFA will be to place him on outright waivers or release waivers. He technically has enough big league service time to reject a minor league assignment if he does clear outright waivers, but he does not yet have the five years of service needed to reject an outright assignment and retain the remainder of his salary. As such, assuming he indeed passes through waivers unclaimed, Zimmer figures to accept the assignment in order to avoid forfeiting the remainder of this season’s $1.3MM salary.