2:11pm: This move is now official.
12:16pm: The Indians are “expected” to recall outfielder Bradley Zimmer from Triple-A Columbus, tweets Zack Meisel of The Athletic. He’ll join righty James Karinchak as a late September call-up for an Indians club that is hosting the division-leading Twins for a pivotal three-game series this weekend. Cleveland currently trails Minnesota by 3.5 games.
It’ll be the first time that Zimmer, 26, has been on the active Major League roster since last June, when he incurred a shoulder injury that eventually required surgery and an eight- to 12-month recovery timetable. The 2014 first-round pick has played in 15 minor league games, including an impressive .364/.440/.636 run in six games with Columbus.
Zimmer debuted to great fanfare with the 2017 Indians. Heralded as a top prospect for most of the interim between that 2014 draft and his MLB debut, he announced his presence with a .308/.388/.518 slash through his first 100 plate appearances before fading badly with greater exposure to MLB pitching. Over his final 229 plate appearances that season, Zimmer hit .212/.271/.327 and struck out at a 30.5 percent clip. He couldn’t snap out of that funk in 2018, either, hitting .226/.281/.330 through 114 plate appearances prior to injuring his shoulder.
Zimmer returns to a vastly different outfield mix than the one he left. At the time of his injury, none of Oscar Mercado, Franmil Reyes, Yasiel Puig, Jake Bauers or Jordan Luplow were even in the organization. And while Puig is a free agent at season’s end, the rest of that group is controllable for the foreseeable future. That’s also true of speedster Greg Allen and the currently injured Tyler Naquin, which further complicates Zimmer’s path back to a prominent role with the team. He’s likely to be utilized in a limited capacity down the stretch, given that glut of outfield options, so he may have a difficult time making an impression on the club’s decision-makers this month. Zimmer does have a minor league option remaining beyond the 2019 season, so the club can send him to Triple-A next spring if that’s determined to be the best course of action.