The Cleveland Guardians announced that they’ve traded Bradley Zimmer to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for pitcher Anthony Castro.
The move comes mere hours after Cleveland dropped their season opener to the Royals. A game in which rookie outfielder Steven Kwan drew a pair of walks, recorded a hit, and just generally looked like a major-leaguer. Now, I’m not saying one game made them pull the trigger on this deal, but they’ve been seeing this kind of thing from Kwan all spring and throughout his whole career. At the very least, let’s hope this trade gives him consistent playing time going forward.
As for Zimmer, the promise was always there — being one of the fastest players in baseball with power potential earned him an extended stay in the majors — but strikeouts have prevented him from truly sticking in the Guardians’ outfield. Zimmer concludes his Guardians career with a .225/.310/.347 slash and 19 home runs in 263 games. Last year was his best in Cleveland as he finished with an 89 wRC+ in 99 games and tied his career-high with eight home runs. But he also struck out 35.1% of the time, which isn’t much worse than his gaudy 33.3% career rate.
Clearly the bad outweighed the good in this scenario, and the Guardians don’t seem to believe he can cut down on the whiffs enough to make an impact, even when paired with Oscar Mercado in a platoon.
The Guardians received 26-year-old right-handed reliever Anthony Castro in return for Zimmer. Castro has 25.2 major-league innings under his belt with a 5.26 ERA and 22% strikeout-to-walk ratio. When the Blue Jays claimed him off waivers from Detroit last season, here’s what FanGraphs had to say about him in their top prospects list:
He’s been on prospect lists before because of his fantastic frame and modest but relevant arm strength (lots of 92-93). His heater has natural cut; his slider lacks depth. Maybe the new org will be able to tweak things, but Detroit is actually pretty good at pitch design and they could not.
Castro hasn’t pitched enough in the majors to have a full picture of his arsenal through Statcast, but in 2021 his four-seam fastball ranked in the 93rd percentile for spin rate, something the Guardians covet highly. He throws an even mix of fastballs (51.4%) and sliders (47.3%) with the very rare changeup thrown in (1.1%).