Right-hander Kyle Zimmer is in the Reds’ locker room, according to Charlie Goldsmith of The Cincinnati Enquirer. Presumably, he and the team have a minor league pact, based on the fact that Zimmer cleared waivers just before the lockout.
The righty was taken by the Royals with the fifth overall selection in the 2012 draft and was considered one of the better prospects in baseball in the years after that. Baseball America placed Zimmer on their Top 100 list four consecutive years from 2013 to 2016. Unfortunately, arm injuries have prevented Zimmer from reaching those lofty expectations thus far in his career.
In the shortened 2020 season, it seemed like maybe he was getting things back on track, throwing 23 innings with a 1.57 ERA. His 11% walk rate was high, but he did rack up strikeouts at an excellent 28.6% rate. He also seemed to be carrying that forward into 2021, with his ERA sitting under 3.00 into July. Unfortunately, he couldn’t finish strong and ended the year with a 4.83 ERA over 54 innings, with a meager 20.6% strikeout rate and 13.5% walk rate. He was released by the Royals in November.
For the Reds, they’ve been mostly focused on cost-cutting measures this offseason, with Wade Miley, Sonny Gray and Amir Garrett being notable subtractions from the pitching staff in the past few months. The 30-year-old Zimmer is a low-cost way of getting a former top prospect into the system. He has over two years of MLB service time and an option year remaining. If he’s able to show any of the previous form that made him successful in 2020, he could give Cincy a depth arm that could be shuffled between Triple-A and the majors, as well as being kept around via arbitration beyond this year.