The Los Angeles Angels figure to be shopping shortstop Andrelton Simmons at the trade deadline, but who will line up as a buyer?
Due to be a free agent at the end of the season and with no clear direction that the Angels are looking to bring him back in 2021, Andrelton Simmons appears to be one of the team’s most marketable trade chips at the deadline. The question is, can they find a buyer.
With the offensive evolution of the game, glove-first shortstops don’t carry the same weight they did in years past. However, we’re not talking about any glove-first shortstop. We’re talking about a multiple-time Gold Glove winner and one of the preeminent defenders of his generation.
Since his debut in 2012, no other shortstop has a higher UZR/150 (17.2), DRS (193), or RngR (68.7). Simmons’ career has been a non-stop highlight reel of exceptional plays at a premium position.
However, Simmons is also more than just your typical glove-first shortstop. While he’s not on the offensive level of peers like Francisco Lindor, Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Correa, or Corey Seager, he does carry value with the stick. He’s a career .268/.315/.379 hitter and carries a minuscule strikeout rate of 8.9%
Now, the tough selling point on Simmons will be whether he can show enough between now and August 31st to make him a viable target for a contender. With ankle issues in each of the last two seasons, teams are going to want to see him play before pulling the trigger on a deal.
The good news there is that the shortstop has looked good in his two games since returning from the injured list. He’s 5-for-9 with a run scored since his return and he’s looked good in the field as well. If he can put another two games in his pocket like that, the Angels could find a taker.
Do the Toronto Blue Jays line up as a trade partner for Andrelton Simmons?
In his most recent analysis of the trade market, ESPN’s Jeff Passan floated the idea of the Toronto Blue Jays as possible interested party. The concept isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds.
Of course, the Blue Jays have a fantastic young shortstop in Bo Bichette. However, Bichette was placed on the 10-day injured list with a sprained right knee on August 16th and there is no clear timetable as to when he could return. As such, the Blue Jays could be looking for a capable fill-in at shortstop.
Adding Simmons at the deadline for the last month of the season protects the Blue Jays from any further issues with Bichette, while also providing an upgrade defensively at shortstop. Currently, the Blue Jays ranks 21st in DEF and own a -7.3 UZR/150 from their collective shortstops.
The beauty of adding Simmons would be that he would be a rental and nothing more. The position will be Bichette’s upon his return, but Simmons allows them to also take it easy with their young stud should they want to ease him back in a bit.
What would a Blue Jays trade package for Andrelton Simmons look like?
While Simmons has his value with his plus-glove, there is no getting around the fact that his bat is ,at best, serviceable. There is also the fact that he’s a pure rental in every sense of the word, and if the Blue Jays do choose to pick him up, it will be done with the understanding that they are unlikely to bring him back next season.
Now, the Angels could play this a few different ways. They can trade Simmons straight up for a prospect now or one to be named later. On the other hand, if they choose to pick up the tab on Simmons’ remaining salary, they can better the return coming back.
Even under the latter terms, Angels’ fans shouldn’t get caught daydreaming for the likes of Nate Pearson, Austin Martin, or any other player in the top 10 of the Jays’ impressive system. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t viable options available.
From the Angels’ perspective, the team will likely prefer an arm that is close to major league ready, as would most teams. In particular, there are two options the the Angels would be increasingly intrigued with; Anthony Kay and Julian Merriweather.
Kay, who was acquired in the Marcus Stroman swap in 2019, is a lefty with good swing and miss stuff. He owns a lifetime 3.58 ERA, a 9.1 K/9, and a 3.7 BB/9 in the minors. Thus far, he’s been limited to seven relief appearances in 2020, contributing a 3.14 ERA, 7.5 K/9, and a 5.0 BB/9 over 14.1 innings. He checks in as the club’s #11 prospect midway through 2020 and projects to be a back-end starter in the majors.
Merriweather is a right-hander with an explosive fastball/change-up combo. As the club’s 26th rated prospect, he may be a more realistic target for a rental of Simmons, especially given his age (28). While he’s primarily been a starter in the minors, his prior injury history and overwhelming stuff plays best in shorter stints and he could slide into the bullpen for the Angels. Thus far, he’s thrown 3.1 innings of scoreless baseball in relief for the Jays, striking out six in the process.
Of course, the problem with both pitchers is that they are already part of the Blue Jays pitching puzzle and subtracting either creates a hole somewhere else. As such, the Angels may need to look at a longer-term return than they hope for.