The Cleveland Indians outfield situation is slowly being resolved. The latest adjustment comes as right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall is activated from the disabled list and center fielder Bradley Zimmer is optioned to Triple-A.
Looking at this head-on, it’s a pretty obvious move. You have a veteran, established guy like Chisenhall coming back to slot into the right-field platoon, and you need to get rid of a center fielder, as it’s the most crowded position in the outfield right now. The what isn’t that surprising in this case. To some, it’s the who.
The Indians could have opted to designated Rajai Davis for assignment, but anyone who has watched a Terry Francona-led team probably knew that wasn’t going to be the case. They also could have optioned Greg Allen, a speedy 25-year-old outfielder similar to Zimmer who does everything Rajai Davis can but better and is 10-for-34 with five extra-base hits in his last eight games.
Instead, the Indians took a rather surprising (but perfectly logical) path of optioning Bradley Zimmer, who to this point had taken the majority of starts at center when he was healthy. The Indians may suffer a small drop at defense in center field, but there’s no doubt that Zimmer has to do something to get his bat right if he’s ever going to reach the power and speed combination he flashed in the minor leagues. To this point he has struck out 38.6 percent of the time and is slashing a miserable .226/.281/.330; since his own return from the disabled list on June second, he’s gone 2-for-8 with five strikeouts.
The move tentatively makes sense, assuming the Indians plan to keep Allen around and let him continue to develop with everyday playing time in center field. If they instead choose to option Allen to make room for Brandon Guyer upon his return, I propose a riot in the streets.