The free agent class of 2021 features prominent names at the shortstop position. Corey Seager, Javier Baez, Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa, and Trevor Story are likely to be sought after by any team that can afford them. Although names of that caliber are not available in 2020, Andrelton Simmons, Didi Gregorius, and Marcus Semien still create a strong market of shortstops.
Simmons, specifically, is not coming off of his best season, playing in 30 of the 60 games. Although it is tough to decipher what that means, Simmons does have a good track record defensively. Although his defensive runs saved was -2 in 2020, he has amassed a career total of 191. Data on BaseballSavant.com show that he accumulated an outs above average of 44 from 2017-2019. Defense is clearly his specialty.
The issues in 2020 stem from an ankle injury that hurt his range. His RF/G of 3.20 was the both the first of his career below the league average and the first below 4.05. He has seen incremental decreases in his RF/G since 2015, but the decline was never as dramatic as it was from 2019 to 2020.
Offensively, Simmons has never been a standout, but he can control the bat. His career K% is 9.01%, with 386 in 4,280 plate appearances. He manages to get hits with an adequate .269 career batting average.
His issue at the plate is a lack of power and inability to draw walks. His career .317 on-base percentage and .379 slugging percentage illustrate those deficiencies. As a result, his OPS and OPS+ show him to be a below-average offensive player. Still, he will bring value to any team that is interested and there should be several teams willing to sign him.
Semien is on the market, and his agent floating the idea of a big pay day for his client. Therefore, it is very possible that the Oakland A’s move on from the 2019 AL MVP finalist. If so, they can shift towards Andrelton Simmons to fill the void.
Overall, Semien slashed .256/.325/.430 in six seasons with Oakland so, offensively, Simmons will not be a significant step back for Oakland. Defensively, Simmons is an upgrade over Semien, and he will form a shutdown left side of their infield with third baseman Matt Chapman. Additionally, they still have Matt Olson, who has 40 defensive runs saved at first base in his career. Simmons bolsters an already strong Oakland infield defense.
Shortstop was an issue for the Cincinnati Reds in 2020, and it is an area of need heading in to 2021. Freddy Galvis lost his job to rookie Jose Garcia. Garcia impressed defensively, but he slashed .194/.206/.194, allowing Galvis to reclaim the job. Simmons will not be the impact bat that they need, but he is still worth signing for the Reds.
He will provide his trademark defense while Garcia, the organization’s top-shortstop prospect, continues his development in MiLB after skipping two levels before his debut in 2020. Additionally, his offensive output is not far off from what Galvis offers. Galvis slashed .220/.308/.440 in 2020, and his career numbers are worse in two of those three categories. Clearly, Simmons is a suitable option for the Reds in 2021.
Like the A’s, the Philadelphia Phillies are a team whose everyday shortstop from 2020 is a free agent. The team did not offer Gregorius a qualifying offer. Although that does not mean they are moving on from him, MLB Trade Rumors speculates that he will play elsewhere in 2021.
Simmons will not replace the offensive production lost by the departures of Gregorius and J.T. Realmuto, but he and Jean Segura can form a great double-play combination up the middle. Segura split time between second and third base in 2020, and he has 14 DRS in 174 games at second base.
This destination is conditional. With rumors of the Cleveland Indians trading Lindor this offseason, they will need a replacement if that happens. Andrelton Simmons can fill that void. While the offense he will provide will not be close to what Lindor has brought the Indians, the defense can make up for that.
Lindor also posts very good defensive numbers with a DRS of 46 since 2015 and an outs above average of 36 since 2017. Still, the DRS is roughly one-third of what Simmons has produced and the outs above average is also behind his total in those respective timeframes. The Indians’ biggest strength has been their starting pitching and having a player like Simmons up the middle as a replacement to Lindor will certainly help their pitching staff.
Andrelton Simmons can be a good value signing for one of these teams, and he will hold down shortstop for them as they look to compete in their respective divisions.
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