2022 Shortstop Targets? – Andrelton Simmons
At the beginning of the offseason, Brian Cashman said the Yankees were not going to go into the 2022 with Gleyber Torres at shortstop. With a tremendous crop of free agent talent available, the Yankees missed out on Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, and Javier Baez.
This week we’ll look at a few free agents and trade targets to fill the role.
Today we look at the case for and against Andrelton Simmons.
Andrelton Simmons: A Quick Overview
Andrelton Simmons started his career with the Atlanta Braves from 2012-2015 while establishing himself as one of the games top defenders. Before the 2016 season Simmons was traded to the Los Angeles Angels. He stayed in LA through 2020 while he showed a large improvement with his bat, especially from 2017 to 2018 when he was at the ages (27-28) of a players typical offensive peak. Finally becoming a free agent for the first time in his career before the 2021 season, Simmons signed a 1/$10.5 Million contract to play for the Minnesota Twins.
Over his career, Andrelton Simmons has hit to a .265/.313/.369 (.683 OPS/88 OPS+) triple-slash with 1156 hits and 70 Home Runs over 1191 games. He’s also put in over 10,000 innings at shortstop to a +197 DRS and a +113.0 UZR. Combined with everything, he’s accumulated +37.3 bWAR and a +24.7 fWAR over 10 seasons in the MLB.
In 2021, Simmons hit to a career worst everything across the board with a .223/.283/.274 (.558 OPS/57 OPS+), which unsurprisingly led him to a -0.5 fWAR over 131 games. However, his bWAR did come out as positive (+1.5) which was helped out greatly from his tremendous glove and fielding (+15 DRS, which was 3rd best across all fielders).
Simmons also has a pretty injury history which started in 2012 with a non-displaced fracture in his right hand and in 2016 he had a torn ligament in his left thumb. Then it got worse as he had a right ankle sprain in 2018, and landed on the IL twice in 2019 for left ankle sprains…and then again in 2020. In addition, Simmons caught COVID-19 and went on IL for that in the early part of the 2021 season.
The Case For Andrelton Simmons:
Outside of being on a potential Hall of Fame path and getting to claim another Hall of Famer for the New York Yankees, there are a fair amount of arguments that can be made for the Yankees going after Andrelton Simmons.
The Yankees have not had a good defensive team in their infield for a long while, as evidenced by their ranking 9th worst in the MLB after the 2021 season (according to SABR). Moving Gleyber Torres off short and adding a player like Andrelton Simmons will instantly upgrade their defensive numbers. Add in that it would also help out their pitching staff as groundballs to the left side of the infield would be taken care of by Urshela and Simmons, and there is a nicety to this idea.
Andrelton Simmons would also likely come to the Yankees on a shorter-term deal (the expectations seems to be a 1-2 year contract), which helps them out a lot. It’s unlikely that Simmons would command a large yearly salary, instead probably around $10M a year as he just had with the Minnesota Twins. It’s certainly cheaper than the AAV that players like Correa and Story are asking for.
Additionally, Simmons coming on a short-term deal would also allow them future flexibility if an up-and-coming prospect like Anthony Volpe, Oswald Peraza, or Oswaldo Cabrera starts to force the issue to break onto the MLB roster. A 10 million dollar player is not someone who would hold up a prospect and it would be a cheap enough contract to likely trade away at a deadline as well.
The Simple Pro’s: Defense, Short-Term and Cheap Potential Contract, Flexibility
The Case Against Andrelton Simmons:
Name a more iconic pairing for the Yankees over the last era than going after past-their-prime veterans. How many times do we need to watch the Yankees go after a Vernon Wells/Travis Hafner/Lyle Overbay type player to fill a gap in the roster? (Combined those players gave the Yankees -0.2 bWAR of value.) Andrelton Simmons could very well be the next name on that list.
While the Yankees were the 9th worst defense in the MLB last year, they also had the 8th worst batting average (.237) and they were below average (17th best; .407) in slugging percentage. Adding a player like Simmons- who hit .223 in 2021- is not going to help those numbers. Especially not when Simmons has only hit to above a .407 SLG three times in his career.
Did I mention that Andrelton Simmons is also a right-handed hitter? In a line-up that has had very little balance, his being a righty does not boost his stock. Nor does his going into his age-32 season while coming off his worst offensive production yet. He’s clearly reached the end of his offensive peak. And, if the ankles are a problem at all then that’s going to cut into his ability to produce to his best defensive capabilities- or the only value he has for a team.
The Simple Con’s: Aging Veteran, Little to No Offensive Production, Somewhat Concerning Injury History
I was, and still am, a huge Andrelton Simmons fan. I have very much enjoyed watching him showcase his defensive prowess and expertise, and I think that Simmons is a player who does have value in the MLB. Just not for the Yankees.
Andrelton Simmons is a great player for a team that needs good pieces on lower-term contracts to field a decently competitive team. Think of teams in a situation like the Miami Marlins and Cleveland Guardians. Teams in those spots could use a great defensive contributor and take the risk that Simmons’ offense will not tank his value and that he’ll stay healthy.
The Yankees however should not take that risk. It’s not that they don’t need another right-handed hitter in the line-up, it’s that he is a huge offensive liability. The Yankees can’t afford to lose more offensive production, even if they recoup some value in defense. The Yankees do not need to go bargain hunting in hopes of a offensive renaissance when they is much more talent out there.
If the Yankees get Simmons, it should come with additional upgrades to the team elsewhere. If that happens, Simmons may have been a sound investment. However, looking at Simmons in a vacuum it is clear that he is not the option Yankees fans should be hoping for.