Cole Kimball made his Major League Debut for the Nationals this past May 14th. He pitched a scoreless 9th inning (allowing one walk and striking out one) in a 1-0 Nationals loss against the Marlins. He would go on to make 11 more appearances between then and mid-June, posting a 1-0 record, 1.93 ERA, with 11 walks and 11 strikeouts in 14.0 innings of work. Kimball was then shut down due to a torn rotator cuff that would eventually require July surgery.
He’d spend the remainder of the season on the 60-day DL. The typical recovery time frame for rotator cuff surgery is around 12 months, meaning Kimball likely will not pitch until mid-2012 at the earliest. However, since the DL does not apply during the offseason, Kimball needed to be placed back on the team’s 40-man roster before this coming Friday. According to Mark Zuckerman, the Nationals were trying to sneak the reliever through waivers in order to assign him to their Triple-A affiliate, and move him off of the 40-man roster in the process.
The team knew there was a risk that someone would claim the reliever, but that was apparently a risk they were willing to take. The Toronto Blue Jays claimed Kimball, and Jared over at Jays Journal thinks the deal is one that could prove to be very lucrative down the road for the Jays. He cites Kimball’s fierce competitiveness, aggressive demeanor, and devastating splitter as signs that Kimball could have ultimately found himself at the backend of Washington’s bullpen once healthy, likely in a setup role with Drew Storen already entrenched as the team’s closer. It’s too early to say he could end up being an option at closer for the Blue Jays, a team that seemingly has been searching for consistency in the role for the past few years.
The Blue Jays were willing to take a chance on Kimball, as they’ll need to keep him on the 40-man roster until the season begins (at which point they’ll be able to move him to the 60-day DL while he continues his recovery). Should the need arise for an opening, and they attempt to pass Kimball through waivers to create that opening, don’t be surprised to see the Nationals attempt to claim him back.