To get through a 162-game season, a baseball team will usually go through a lot of players. The bottom of the active roster can often be a steady churn due to injuries, underperformance, and other factors. The Phillies had 26 different players take at bats for them in 2022, and when you need to find that many players, you’re probably going to have to draw from the flotsam and jetsam floating around the major leagues.
Oscar Mercado, Yairo Munoz, and Bradley Zimmer were three such players. All three had been on major league rosters over the past couple of years, but none of them performed well enough to really stick.
Mercado was originally a second-round pick by the Cleveland franchise. He had some initial success, finishing eighth in rookie of the year voting in 2019. But he was never able to follow up on that success, recording a sub-.700 OPS in each of the following seasons. In June, the Guardians designated him for assignment, and the Phillies - looking for potential outfield reinforcements after Bryce Harper’s injury - claimed him off waivers.
The Phillies didn’t give him much of a look. He appeared in one game and had one plate appearance - a strikeout - before they designated him for assignment, and the Guardians claimed him right back. Time is a circle.
Bradley Zimmer took a similar path. He began his major league career with the Guardians but was never able to establish himself as a capable major league hitter. The Guardians traded him to the Blue Jays at the start of the 2022 season, but after 100 mostly ineffective games with Toronto, he was designated for assignment.
New #Phillies CF Bradley Zimmer is batting .105 this season. Career .214 hitter.— David Esser (@DavidEsser_) August 18, 2022
However, he does have a career 1.5 dWAR and .998 fielding % in center field.
Career .662 OPS against right-handed pitching.
With Brandon Marsh headed to the IL, the Phillies needed another outfielder, so they claimed him off waivers. He appeared in nine games for the Phillies, mostly serving as a defensive replacement in the outfield. When Marsh returned to the active roster, Zimmer returned to the waiver wire, and like Mercado, he was reclaimed by his former team.
Of the three players, Munoz was the only one to really make any sort of impact on the 2022 Phillies. After spending parts of the previous four seasons on a couple of major league rosters, Munoz signed a minor league deal with the Phillies before the season. When utility man Edmundo Sosa suffered an injury in June, the Phillies were in need of another infielder, and Munoz was recalled from the minors.
He made a strong early impression, hitting two home runs in a series against the Nationals. But when Sosa returned from the IL, Munoz was sent back down until he made another injury-necessitated cameo in August.
Munoz showed a little pop, hitting three home runs in his 60 plate appearances. Zimmer did what he was supposed to, which was play good defense in the outfield. As for Mercado, well, it’s tough to accomplish too much good when you only receive one at bat.
None of the three provided much overall value, but if you’re looking for much out of guys who were on the waiver wire midseason, you’re probably going to be disappointed.
Mercado and Zimmer both returned to their original teams, so they will definitely not be back with the Phillies. Munoz was granted free agency, so there’s a chance the Phillies bring him back on a minor league deal, depending on how they feel about their infield depth.
Regardless of what team they hook up with, all three will probably continue to live on the fringes of a major league roster. While sometimes these types of players will find the right environment, and eventually bloom, in most cases, they continue to bounce around from team to team, temporarily finding their way onto big league rosters when a specific need arises.