The Dodgers are set to sign outfielder Bradley Zimmer to a minor league contract, The Athletic’s Fabian Ardaya reports (via Twitter). The Blue Jays non-tendered Zimmer in November rather than pay him a projected $1.3MM salary in his second year of arbitration eligibility.
Zimmer was a member of three different organizations in 2022, as he was traded from the Guardians to the Jays in April, and then claimed off waivers by the Phillies in August. Toronto claimed Zimmer back just over a week later, and Zimmer finished the season in a Blue Jays uniform. Over 117 total plate appearances with Toronto and Philadelphia, Zimmer hit only .124/.207/.229.
This lack of production outweighed the theoretical benefit that Zimmer’s left-handed bat brought to the Blue Jays’ extremely right-handed lineup, and he likely wouldn’t have received nearly as many at-bats had it not been for some injuries to Toronto’s starting outfielders. However, Zimmer added value off the bench as a pinch-runner, and he continued to deliver quality defense. Over 1783 1/3 career MLB innings as a center fielder, Zimmer has positive grades in Outs Above Average (+10), Defensive Runs Saved (+13), and UZR/150 (+3.6).
Once a top-100 prospect in his days in Cleveland’s farm system, Zimmer hasn’t been able to hit at the big league level, and now might be settling into a role as a depth outfielder at age 30. His glove and speed will continue to get get him looks for teams in need of outfield depth, and some extra help on the grass could help a Dodgers team that has parted ways with Cody Bellinger. Trayce Thompson projects as the new regular center fielder, but with Thompson’s own inconsistent track record before coming to Los Angeles, it makes sense that the Dodgers want some extra help in the minors. It’s possible Zimmer could essentially fill the depth role Kevin Pillar was slated for in 2022, before Pillar underwent season-ending shoulder surgery.