Ryan Zimmerman needing a stint on the disabled list certainly isn’t a surprise considering the third baseman’s shoulder injury hasn’t shown any improvement, but the Nationals’ choice to replace him on the roster is a shocker.
General manager Mike Rizzo announced that Bryce Harper will be called up from Triple-A tomorrow to make his MLB debut this weekend at Dodger Stadium, which seemingly comes out of nowhere given that the top prospect was hitting just .250 with a .333 on-base percentage and .375 slugging percentage in 20 games at Triple-A.
Despite that lackluster production, Harper is coming to the majors at age 19 and with a grand total of 57 games above Single-A. Presumably the Nationals wouldn’t call him up to do anything but play every day, which means Rick Ankiel, Roger Bernadina, and Xavier Nady will lose outfield playing time and Mark DeRosa may see most of his remaining action paired with Chad Tracy at third base.
Harper’s arrival is coming significantly sooner and after significantly less success at Triple-A than anyone could have expected, with Rizzo admitting that “this isn’t the optimal situation developmentally.” However, it’s also worth noting that by keeping him in the minors for even a few weeks the Nationals have likely delayed his eventual free agency by an extra year.
UPDATE: Adding to the drama? Stephen Strasburg will be on the mound for the Nationals tomorrow.
UPDATE #2: Rizzo said the plan is for Harper to play left field, where he started just two twice in 20 games at Triple-A, and the GM indicated that there’s no guarantee he’ll stay in the majors once Zimmerman returns.