Andrelton Simmons Leaves Angels With 5 Games Remainingby B.J. Martin September 23, 2020 0 comments
Los Angeles Angels shortstop shocked manager Joe Maddon and his teammates on Tuesday by announcing he would be ending his season with five games remaining.
The Angels, still holding onto the slimmest of playoff hopes, learned about the decision from Simmons agents who also released a statement to the media. Simmons is a free agent this coming winter and coming off a series of ankle injuries that have caused him to miss time the past two seasons.
Simmons’s representatives released the following statement on behalf of the shortstop prior to the Angels’ two-game series opener at San Diego’s Petco Park.
“I have made the decision to opt out of the remainder of this season. Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association developed an environment and systems that empowered players and provided us the opportunity to decide on whether to play or opt out of the season. At this moment, I feel this is the best decision for me and for my family. We don’t know what the future holds, but we would like to sincerely thank the Angels organization and Angels fans for welcoming and making us feel at home.”
The Angels promoted shortstop Elliot Soto to replace Simmons on the roster. Utility infielder Luis Rengifo was the starting second baseman on Tuesday while David Fletcher assumed the shortstop position against the Padres. Fletcher played the majority of games at shortstop early this year when Simmons injured his ankle in the season-opening series in Oakland. Fletcher was a shortstop throughout his college and professional career leading up to his major league debut in 2018. Fletcher and Rengifo are both under team control for at least the next five seasons.
Since the beginning of the 2019 season, Fletcher’s 5.0 fWAR is second on the club to Mike Trout’s 11.2 fWAR. Simmons ranks sixth for the Angels during that same period with 2.4 fWAR but is known primarily for the value he provides as a Gold Glove shortstop. Simmons has won six Rawlings Gold Glove awards at the position and holds a 17.5 defensive WAR since the beginning of last season. While Simmons leads all Angels in that category, he is followed closely by Fletcher’s 16.4 dWAR since 2019, albeit that statistic includes his play at second, third, and outfield in addition to the shortstop position.
Simmons has been the Angels’ everyday shortstop when healthy since being acquired from the Atlanta Braves in 2015 and has been a .281 hitter with 36 home runs, 238 runs batted in, 51 stolen bases, and 84.8 dWAR since joining the club. Simmons’s defensive WAR is second only to catcher Yasmani Grandal in MLB since 2016. His 15.5 fWAR is second only to Mike Trout’s 37.4 during his Angels tenure.
Simmons’s venture into free agency will be interesting as he appears to be one of the top three shortstops available in this winter’s market. The 31-year-old shortstop finishes the abbreviated 2020 season hitting .297 with no home runs, 10 runs batted in, and a .702 OPS. His 17.5 dWAR since the beginning of 2019 ranks sixth among MLB shortstops and five of them will be free agents in the next 14 months. Simmons joins Oakland’s Marcus Semien and Philadelphia’s Didi Gregorius as the top shortstops this winter. The class following next season will include Francisco Lindor, Corey Seager, Trevor Story, Carlos Correa, and Javy Baez and could have potential ramifications for shortstops seeking long-term contracts this offseason.
This superb free agent class of shortstops also coincides with the end of Albert Pujols‘s contract with the Angels which could seemingly free up some budget for a big signing for the Halos.
As the Angels head into the offseason with their sixth straight season of a losing record and no playoffs, they will look to add help for Fletcher in the middle infield. The Angels have Rengifo, Franklin Barreto, and prospect Jahmai Jones in their system but many intriguing free agents could be targets for Angels this winter. American League batting leader D.J. LeMahieu leads the second base class of free agents and will most likely be the costliest at the position. Some of the more intriguing candidates for the Angels could be Detroit’s Jonathan Schoop, Toronto’s Jonathan Villar, and Cleveland’s Cesar Hernandez. Former Angels second baseman Tommy La Stella could reunite once again with skipper Joe Maddon after spending a month plus the postseason with division rival Oakland. Asdrubal Cabrera, Joe Panik, Jurickson Profar, and potential free agents with club options such as Dee Gordon and Kolten Wong add depth to the second base market this winter.
Some of the Angels’ top low-level prospects are shortstops, such as Jeremiah Jackson, Kyren Paris, Arol Vera, Jose Bonilla, and Adrian Placencia. None have played minor league baseball above the low Single-A level but both Jackson and Paris were participants at the Angels’ alternate training site this summer. The earliest ETA for these middle infield prospects would likely be the 2023 season.
Angels This Week
The Angels kicked off their two-game set with the San Diego Padres with a slim chance of still making the postseason as they trail both the Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays for the division’s second and league’s eighth playoff spots, respectively. The Angels did their part defeating the Padres in Tuesday evening’s game while the Astros’ win and Blue Jays’ loss keeps the Angels 3.5 games behind both clubs with four games remaining. An Angels loss or wins by both the Jays and Astros would eliminate the Angels.
Jaime Barria will close out his 2020 bounce-back season with one final start against the Padres on Wednesday afternoon. Barria has a 3.26 ERA across six games with the Angels this season while his 0.8 barrels per plate appearance is the lowest among all MLB pitchers with four or more starts. Barring major turnover to the Angels’ starting rotation this offseason, Barria should be penciled in alongside Dylan Bundy, Andrew Heaney, and Griffin Canning in the club’s 2021 starting rotation.
MLB released the 2021 spring training schedules this past week. The Angels will open their 2021 Cactus League season on Saturday, Feb. 27 at Scottsdale against the San Francisco Giants. The Angels have 29 games on their Cactus League schedule which concludes on Friday, March 26 at Tempe against the Cincinnati Reds. They will presumably return to Southern California for their yet-to-be-announced annual Freeway Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers before their Opening Day matchup with the Chicago White Sox at Angel Stadium on April 1.
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