Blue Jays add Zimmer to outfield mix

April 8th, 2022

TORONTO — The Blue Jays made a trade late Thursday, acquiring outfielder Bradley Zimmer from the Guardians for reliever Anthony Castro.

Zimmer adds to Toronto’s outfield depth ahead of the club's Opening Day game on Friday, bringing another left-handed bat into the organization as the Blue Jays work to balance out a righty-heavy lineup. Castro, on the other hand, was left on the outside looking in at the Blue Jays’ bullpen picture as they broke camp.

The 29-year-old Zimmer, a 2014 first-round Draft pick (21st overall) by Cleveland, is a familiar name to the Blue Jays’ front office. He came up as one of the top outfield prospects in the game, too, peaking as the No. 22 prospect in baseball according to MLB Pipeline prior to the 2017 season.

“He brings speed,” manager Charlie Montoyo said prior to Friday’s season opener. “He brings defense in the field, which is something that’s going to help us a lot, and he can pinch-run.”

Zimmer made his MLB debut in that ‘17 season, but has been in and out of Cleveland’s lineup since, batting .225 with 19 home runs and a .658 OPS over parts of five MLB seasons. Coming to Toronto with no options remaining, though, room will need to be made for him on the roster as a new opportunity awaits.

“I was talking to one of the coaches I know from Cleveland,” Montoyo said, “and he said this guy has the talent to be a really good ballplayer, so maybe the change of scenery will help him out, too.”

Toronto’s outfield depth chart has taken on a much different look in recent weeks, which began when the club dealt Randal Grichuk to the Rockies for Raimel Tapia. The Tapia addition added some speed and contact to that group, and the Blue Jays later signed 14-year MLB veteran Dexter Fowler to a Minor League deal.

Zimmer has primarily played center field in his MLB career, but like Tapia, has the ability to play all three spots. The Blue Jays are currently carrying a third catcher in Zack Collins, an extra infielder in Gosuke Katoh and a 10-man bullpen, so they’ll need to find a spot to subtract from to balance out their 28-man roster by the time Zimmer is activated and added to the roster.

Castro, 26, broke through with a strong start for the Blue Jays in early ‘21, finishing the season with a 4.74 ERA and 32 strikeouts over 24 2/3 innings.