With his decision to opt-out of the remainder of the 2020 season, Andrelton Simmons may have publicly indicated his time with the Angels is ending.
Just before game-time on Tuesday evening, the Los Angeles Angels announced that shortstop Andrelton Simmons had chosen to opt-out of the remainder of the 2020 MLB season. In doing so, he may have played his last game in an Angels uniform.
The timing if the decision is curious, as there are only five games remaining in the 2020 season, but with the Angels all but eliminated from postseason contention, the shortstop indicated the future may have played a role in his decision.
“Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association developed an environment and system that empowered players and provided us the opportunity to decide on whether to play or opt out of the season,” Simmons said. “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.” (h/t Rhett Bolinger, MLB.com).
For the season, Andrelton Simmons will finish with a .297/.346/.356 batting line with zero home runs and 10 RBI over just 127 plate appearances. He also put forth another season of solid work at shortstop, despite the ankle injuries, where he registered a 9.9 UZR/150 and made 32 plays out of zone.
The tough decision of whether to bring back Andrelton Simmons in 2021
While Simmons’ choice to end his 2020 season may indicate that he’s watching out for his health as he approaches free agency, the ultimate decision was likely out of his hands to begin with.
A free agent following the season, there has been some debate as to whether Simmons will return to the Angels following the completion of his fifth season in Anaeheim. Back-to-back seasons shortened by ankle injuries have likely given the team pause on a long-term commitment and the financial impact of COVID-19 may make it risky for the team to extend a qualifying offer.
While his initial batting line may look like an improvement on previous seasons, there are underlying statistics that indicate it may be best for the Angels to move on. His Isolated of .059 was a career-worst, as was his UZR/150, which was still a solid 9.9, but he also put forth his first season of negative work in DRS (-2).
It’s obvious that the ankle injuries have played their part in his offensive game, but the dip in production on the defensive side of the ball takes away some of his excess value.
The Simmons decision may give Angels a chance to review options for 2021
In the short-term, the Angels will go with David Fletcher as their starting shortstop for the final four games remaining (after Tuesday’s win). However, while the move may seem temporary to get the team through the final slate of games, it may also represent an opportunity for the Halos to see what they have in terms of middle infielders heading into 2021.
Fletcher represents the top in-house candidate to assume shortstop duties should the Angels and Simmons opt not to continue their relationship past the 2020 season. Fletch has filled in for Simmons over each of the last two seasons and has played admirably at the position, posting a 5.1 UZR/150 at shortstop over the last three seasons. He also provides much more value with the bat than Simmons, and is trending up with the bat, as indicated by his .307/.367/.413 batting line and 119 wRC+ in 2020.
While Fletcher is the obvious choice to move to shortstop should Simmons depart, he does leave a glaring hole at second base. The possibility of Simmons finding a new home in addition to the Angels trade of Tommy La Stella at the deadline leaves a lot of work to find someone to handle the keystone.
With the injury to Franklin Barreto clearing the table, Luis Rengifo will get to showcase what he can over the last few games of the season. Thus far, the results have not been encouraging as he owns a .138/.266/.188 batting line in 80 at-bats this season. The Angels also have journeyman Elliot Soto and prospect Jahmai Jones on the 40-man roster, but it appears that Rengifo will get the chances to prove something down the stretch.
Regardless of how this was painted, the choice to opt-out of the remainder of the season is not a good one for the Angels, but for some reason, it is nearly par for the course for an underwhelming 2020.