Angels Place Andrelton Simmons on Injured List, Promote Luis Rengifo
Jul 27, 2020; Oakland, California, USA; Los Angeles Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons (2) is helped off the field by a training staff after suffering an injury against the Oakland Athletics during the ninth inning at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
Andrelton Simmons was doing what he always does trailing in the ninth inning of Monday afternoon’s four-game series finale in Oakland. As Simmons hit a hit chopping infield grounder to the shortstop, he hustled down the first-base line, extending his left leg to the first base bag to beat the throw for an infield single. Simmons’s left foot landed awkwardly on the backside of the bag and buckled with the force of his momentum behind him. Simmons was assisted off the field and moments later, the Angels lost the game and series to the Athletics.
On Tuesday evening, Simmons was placed on the 10-day injured list with a left ankle sprain. Meanwhile, infielder Luis Rengifo was activated from the injured list. Rengifo had reported late to camp coming off a rookie season in which the middle infielder did well filling in during injuries last summer.
The 30-year-old Simmons is a four-time Gold Glove shortstop who was starting his fourth game of his free agent season with the Angels when he was injured Monday. Since 2015, Simmons has a defensive WAR of 105.9 at the shortstop position. The next best at his position is two-time Gold Glover Francisco Lindor with an 80.2 WAR at shortstop. No other non-catcher is anywhere close to Simmons in his ability to impact the game in the field for his team. Losing Simmons is a blow for the Angels but also something they have had to deal with in recent seasons.
Simmons missed several weeks last season after suffering a bone bruise and injury to the same left ankle in early August. He twisted an ankle again falling down the dugout steps in 2018 that led to him missing a couple weeks. In both cases, Simmons recovered and returned to the field quicker and ahead of the projected recovery time but admittedly wasn’t able to play at 100 percent following his return.
Angels manager Joe Maddon and Andrelton Simmons seemed optimistic that Simmons could be returning soon.
Now, the Angels find themselves in a situation where they can see what life looks like without Simmons in an infield that features Anthony Rendon locked in at third base and David Fletcher at either second base or shortstop for the next several seasons. Like Simmons, second baseman Tommy La Stella is a free agent following this season and is coming off a breakout 2019 All-Star season. La Stella has kicked off his 2020 campaign looking just as good in the field and at the plate as he did last year and should be a fixture in this year’s lineup. While Simmons’s value is undeniable, his injury provides a place for David Fletcher to play every day with the return of Anthony Rendon to third base this week.
Expect the Angels to post a lineup most nights featuring Albert Pujols at first, Tommy La Stella at second, David Fletcher at short, and Anthony Rendon at third in the absence of Simmons. Rendon, Fletcher, and La Stella combined for 12.4 fWAR last season and although Fletcher is not a defensive star, he can provide solid defense to match his invaluable contact hitting at the top of the lineup.
Additional depth has arrived in infielder Luis Rengifo as he joins the club. Rengifo provides the Angels with a slick fielder, switch-hitter, and pinch-runner who is capable of filling in a second, short, or third. Arismendy Alcantara is a former Joe Maddon infielder from his days with the Cubs that performed well in spring camp and is another versatile option for the Angels practicing at their alternative site at Long Beach State.
The Angels will face some difficult decisions when it comes to negotiating future deals with Andrelton Simmons and Tommy La Stella following this season, but for now, they can see what they have to work with team controllable players like Fletcher, Rengifo, and potentially alternative site second baseman Jahmai Jones.
Jeremiah Jackson, Kyren Paris, Arol Vera, Jose Bonilla, Adrian Placencia, and Livan Soto are all very good middle infield prospects in the Angels’ farm system but none have advanced beyond Low Single-A ball going into the canceled 2020 minor league season. David Fletcher is ultimately probably best-suited long-term at second base but could provide a good stop-gap for a few seasons until one of these prospects reaches Anaheim.
Following the season, the Angels will likely work on coming to terms on a contract extension with Simmons. If those efforts fail, the Angels can feel good about having versatile players like David Fletcher and Luis Rengifo on their roster to handle the shortstop position.