Bradley Zimmer, Cleveland Indians
It’s hard enough for young players to establish themselves in the big leagues, let alone in the midst of a playoff push, let alone while coming back from an injury – but that’s exactly the situation Bradley Zimmer finds himself in with the 2019 Cleveland Indians.
Pilfering young hopefuls from contenders doesn’t seem like the easiest way to go about roster building for an Arizona team more likely than not to take a step back this season, but Zimmer is a strong defender who might excel outside of the spotlight of contention that he’ll face in Cleveland. Granted, the Indians need outfielders, but the Diamondbacks have the pieces to get him, if they’re willing to move Souza or Peralta. Unfortunately, Hazen doesn’t seem ready to go down that path yet.
Zimmer is an interesting change-of-scenery candidate – perfect for a rebuilding club as he likely won’t be healthy by the start of the season. But he’s also the least established major leaguer on this list. Off to a slow start in 2018, injuries ended his season after only 34 games.
The year before he played in 101 games, slashing .241/.307/.385, just an 80 wRC+. His power has yet to show up in-game (.133 ISO), he doesn’t walk enough (7.4 BB%), and he strikes out even more often than Happ (32.1%). Intrigued?
I am! Here’s why: Zimmer has all the physical tools to develop into a professional star. He has a cannon of an arm – born out in his defensive metrics from ’17 – and he cover more ground in the outfield than you’d expect for a guy 6’5″, 200 lbs. The power usually associated with a frame like his hasn’t yet materialized, but it may yet, and he has speed to compensate.
He stole 18 bases while only caught once in 2017, and his defensive metrics were strong too (4 DRS, 4.9 UZR in 2017). His range scores weren’t great, and there is a version of Zimmer’s future where he ends up in right, but he’d be an above-average defender there for sure. The question, still, is whether he hits enough to earn his keep.
He’s 26-years-old, so not the youngest person on this list, but there’s still plenty of upside. If he hasn’t yet, Dbacks GM Mike Hazen should no doubt see what kind of return they could get for David Peralta or Steven Souza Jr., neither of whom are spring chickens.
The Indians, however, with a relatively clear path to the playoffs in the AL Central, may be content to ride out the wave with Zimmer when he returns from injury. His defense will help, and if he takes longer than expected to refine his approach at the plate, they could be patient.
If the Dbacks and Indians both start slow, it would not be surprising in the least to see a deal materialize surrounding Peralta/Zimmer in July.