The Phillies announced Thursday that they’ve claimed outfielder Bradley Zimmer off waivers from the Blue Jays. He’ll take the active roster spot of center fielder Brandon Marsh, who’s headed to the 10-day injured list due to a sprained left ankle. Bryce Harper was transferred to the 60-day injured list to open a spot on the 40-man roster.
Zimmer, a former first-round pick and top prospect in Cleveland, was traded to the Jays on Opening Day and held a roster spot throughout the season due to his glovework and baserunning prowess. He’s posted a disastrous .105/.209/.237 batting line on the season, but that’s come in a minuscule sample of 87 plate appearances spread across 77 games.
Zimmer has never been a great hitter in the Majors, but he came into the 2022 season as a .225/.310/.347 hitter, so it’s fair to wonder whether he might’ve fared a bit better at the plate had he been given more than five to six plate appearances per week. At the time of his DFA, Zimmer had played in 22 games and received just 14 plate appearances over a span of more than six weeks.
At least in the short term, the Phils could have more at-bats to give Zimmer. He’ll give them a plus defender to slot in between lumbering sluggers Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos in the outfield, providing some needed range to help offset the defensive deficiencies the Phillies face in the corners.
Marsh, acquired in a deadline deal sending top catching prospect Logan O’Hoppe to the Angels, hit .250/.294/.313 in 34 plate appearances with the Phillies before sustaining his current injury on a play at the center field wall. Like Zimmer, he’s a plus defender in center, though Marsh is also a recent second-round pick and top prospect whom the Phils hope can be their everyday option in center for the foreseeable future. It seems likely that once Marsh returns, Zimmer could again be squeezed off the roster, although with rosters expanding to 28 in September, perhaps the Phils will hang onto Zimmer to give them a second plus glove in the outfield as a late-game replacement.
Harper’s move to the 60-day injured list is procedural and does not reset his timeline for a return. The “60-day” term on the 60-day IL is retroactive to whenever a player was first placed on the IL, and Harper has been aiming for a September return anyway. In other words, it’s a technicality that is not reflective of any snags in his rehab or any setbacks. He’s been working to mend a broken thumb sustained when he was plunked by an errant Blake Snell fastball. Harper also has a tear in the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, which has limited him to DH work due to an inability to throw from right field. That’ll likely remain his role once he returns next month.