The Cincinnati Reds still have not acquired a shortstop for the 2021 season. Spring training starts in just over a month. The Reds aren’t alone in having the slower winter in the history of Major League Baseball free agency, as the National League Central division has made four big league signings (five if we count the Reds re-signing to a split contract Kyle Farmer) with none of those signings being worth a total of $1,000,000. But Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported around lunch time on Thursday that Cincinnati was one of the teams interested in shortstop Andrelton Simmons.

When you look at the resume for Andrelton Simmons you start with the defense. He’s arguably the best or second best defensive shortstop any of us have seen play in our lives. He’s just a different level defender, and he’s that kind of guy at the second most important position on the field.

Offensively he’s had some ups-and-downs in his career. In 2017 and 2018 he posted a 102 and 108 OPS+, making him a better than league average hitter. But in 2019 he fell off of a cliff, at least with regards to OPS+, as he put up just a 78 OPS+. In 2020 he rebounded to post a 95 OPS+, but that also came in just 30 games played.

Andrelton Simmons doesn’t strike out much. He also doesn’t walk much. There’s not much power, either, but he’s not punchless. Back in 2017 he had 38 doubles, 2 triples, and 14 home runs for the Angels. Anaheim, and the American League West as a whole, is rather pitcher friendly. A move to Cincinnati and the much more hitter friendly National League Central could help out with regards to getting a little more pop to play. Just as a fun side note, Simmons has hit four home runs in nine career games at Great American Ballpark and a career 1.119 OPS in Cincinnati.

Among the free agent group at the top of the shortstop market, Simmons projects third, trailing Marcus Semien and Didi Gregorius in projected WAR for 2021 according to ZiPS projections. But he’s neck-and-neck with Gregorius as the two project for 2.5 and 2.6 WAR each. Semien leaves them both in the dust with his projected 4.2 WAR.

Andrelton Simmons is probably a little better offensively than he appears at first glance. The big ballpark in Anaheim, and the division at large, skews his numbers a little bit. Once park adjusted it paints a bit of a better picture. With that said, he’s still not as good at the plate as Didi Gregorius or Marcus Semien have been or project to be. Simmons brings a ton of value with his glove – he’s a special caliber defender. If the team is more concerned with improving the offense than simply altering the runs/runs allowed numbers, then Simmons would be the third option on the list. If you’re simply looking at the overall value of the three players, though, you could argue that he could be the second best option.

With the Reds starting pitchers being a ground ball pitching group, that defense could actually be a bit more valuable. Sonny Gray and Luis Castillo are among the top ground ball pitchers in all of baseball. Wade Miley is a ground ball pitcher. Michael Lorenzen may get a spot in the rotation, and for his career he’s been a ground ball pitcher. Tejay Antone could also be in contention for a spot in the rotation and for his career (minors and majors) he’s been a rather high ground ball rate pitcher. The only exception is Tyler Mahle. Don’t sleep on the defensive value of a shortstop on a ground ball pitching team, even if it’s not as easy to appreciate as a guy who can hit a little better.

51 Responses

  1. Ron Hannah

    Great fielder……another guy that can’t swing it though.

  2. AllTheHype

    I like Simmons as the best fit among the remaining SS options. He is an improvement over the position last year both offensively and defensively, and likely comes much cheaper and with less commitment in years than Semiens and Gregorius.

    When you consider Simmons elite defense in comparison to Semiens and Gregorius, it dampens any offensive upgrade the latter options provide anyway.

    • Bob Purkey

      Go get him. I have been saying for months, that they should get Simmons and Wong which would be approximately the cost of what they paid Bauer. Reds need players that can put the bat on the ball and they both do that, they are good baserunners, good fielders, and lets face it with Suarez, Votto and Moose in the infield that Reds weren’t looking at anything close to a gold glove, but maybe some iron gloves.

      This allows them platoon Votto, Castellanos, Moose and Suarez and even trade Eugenio if you get a good offer.

      • Lou

        Is this THE Bob Purkey? If so it’s an honor. I’ll alwYs remember 1960!!

      • Frankie Tomatoes

        Bob Purkey passed away in 2008

    • Redleg67

      They’ll probably offer him two years at most considering Garcia is the up and coming.

  3. west larry

    This has been the shortstop I’ve wanted all along. Only his injury history is a negative.
    If he is in their budget (and who knows what that is) grab him. You don’t even have to give up prospects! Go reds, sign this guy.

  4. Sliotar

    Doug, excellent post.

    Some good references on Simmons … park adjustments and especialy, his defense. You stay up to watch Trout on enough nights and you will see Simmons log some ridiculous defensive plays.

    SS needs stabilized … not necessarily fully optimized. Simmons probably does that.

  5. RedBaron

    I don’t hate the idea if we can get him for about $8-9M a year for a 1-2 year contract. He is only 31 (only a year older than Semien and 1/2 older year than Didi). My worry is that his D is fading as noted by his metrics in 2020. Still, he is young enough and could be motivated to perform on a 1 year contract.

  6. Scott C

    I really question the health of his ankle, while I appreciate his defense, that does know good if he is on the IL. I still prefer Semiens.

    • earmbrister

      Scott, why do you question the health of his ankle? He hurt it last July. Do you have inside info that it’s not well a half of a year later?

  7. LDS

    It would be nice to see the Reds do something. But at this point I’m not holding my breath. I still worry that Farmer is the guy for 2021.

    • JayTheRed

      I still worry they say oh we tried to get so and so and but they went somewhere else and so we going to resign Galvis. I would rather see Garcia take his lumps in the bigs, than have Galvis back.

      As for the 3 free agents I honestly have this odd feeling Gregorius doesn’t really want to play here. I don’t have facts to back it up but he sure didn’t seem too interested last year either when we tried signing him. I like the other 2 guys and like in the article noted this team sure could use some defensive help.

  8. SultanofSwaff

    Jose Garcia is projected to OPS nearly the same as Simmons. They’re both plus defenders. So if a sub .700 OPS is the bar, why spend the money?

    Go big or stay home!

    • AllTheHype

      Range of projections have Simmons about 100 OPS points higher on average. And while Garcia could be an elite defensive SS at some point, he is not yet, and nowhere near Simmons at this point in time.

    • Redleg67

      That’s what I heard about Simmons. Signing him when they already have Garcia who’s nearly the same offensively. They would just be paying more for a similar product.

      • JayTheRed

        Umm.. Garcia last season had batting Average of under .200 I think it was like .167 or somewhere near that. He also had like a .265 or near that. There is no way that Simmon’s numbers are anywhere near those.

        I am fine with Simmon’s on a 1 year with mutual option or 2 year deal at most while Garcia learns to hit.

    • Jimbo44CN

      Agree. Let Garcia develop if necessary. Only get a shortstop if he can get on base.

  9. JoshG

    I think he’d actually be my first choice, due to defense and likely an affordable 1 or 2 year deal.

  10. Tom Mitsoff

    Question for Doug (and anyone else who wants to express an opinion):

    A few weeks back when I came to the conclusion that the chances of the Reds getting either Gregorius or Semien at the price they want are 50-50 at best, I took a look at Simmons’ stats. My conclusion was that his best comp is Jose Iglesias. I’m curious about everyone’s thoughts since many people didn’t like Iglesias because his OPS+ was below average.

    • SultanofSwaff

      I was thinking the same thing. IMO Iglesias is more of a sure thing.

      If you’re shopping in the bargain bin (as usual), Iglesias could’ve been had for a fraction of the cost.

    • AllTheHype

      Iglesias is a very reasonable comp, and he has not been expensive either. Neither should Simmons be. If Simmons asks for lots of $ or multi years, Reds should walk away and let him come back to their door in Spring Training looking for a home.

    • Doug Gray

      Jose Iglesias best WAR in a season is 2.5. Andrelton Simmons best WAR in a season is 7.8. Simmons has 7 seasons with a higher WAR than Iglesias’ best year.

      • AllTheHype

        The last 2 years combined, Iglesias had the higher WAR. I guess it depends on if you think you’re getting for the pre 2019 Simmons or the post 2018 one.

      • earmbrister

        Well Doug, if you want to talk facts ….

        Be that way, LOL

      • Gonzo Reds

        Thanks Doug. Honestly, I was thinking the same thing as Tom with that comparison but you’ve set us all straight. LOL

        We’ll have to offer 2 years, I doubt he’ll take 1, but think it’s worth it. With Garcia, we really don’t know yet if he will hit or not or when, fine with 2 years. Let’s get it done so we can have him in for the start of camp. Plus we’ll have a little extra for another RP.

    • Hotto4Votto

      Well, the Angels traded for Iglesias this offseason rather than trying to resign Simmons. For a team “going for it” this offseason, they were comfortable enough with the differences to make that swap, with their knowledge of Simmons being the most intimate. That may be telling.

      • Jimbo44CN

        Totally agree. I just hated that we let Iglesias go. Team player, superb defense, and really decent offensively. What a shame.

  11. Gonzo Reds

    I want him for our 2021 Reds Strat-o-Matic team! 😉

  12. RedAlert

    nope – pass . This would be par for the course Reds move – can see it coming from a million miles away . No, no and no …

  13. docproc

    Simmons has had three ankle injuries in the past calendar year. We already can’t keep Senzel or Winker on the field–why add one more?

    • earmbrister

      Huh. I thought it was 3 ankle injuries over THREE YEARS, not “three ankle injuries in the past calendar year”.

      How many months are in a year Doc?

      • earmbrister

        Simmons had the following Plate Appearances over the last three full seasons: 647/600/424.

        Did I mention that Jose Garcia had a 2020 OPS+ of 7?

        Yes, SEVEN.

        Not a typo …

      • docproc

        From MLB Trade Rumors:

        Simmons, 31, was out to a strong start in 2019 before a Grade 3 left ankle sprain sidelined him for more than a month. His offense cratered upon returning from the injured list, and he was placed back on the IL just weeks later. His already modest power was nowhere to be seen in 2020, and he missed time this past season with his third left-ankle injury in just over one calendar year. Beyond that, his typically brilliant defensive ratings have taken a slide as he’s navigated those ankle woes.

  14. 2020ball

    Personally I like Simmons, I’d be happy to have him. There are concerns with him sure, but that can be said about all the other shortstops on the market.

  15. TR

    If Simmons ankles can take the wear and tear of a long season and he provides some offensive punch while Garcia learns to hit ML pitching, then sign him for two years at most.

  16. Optimist

    A 1-yr. incentive laden contract – say a 2m base, and 1m for every 25 games played, or some variation on that. Or 2 yrs. for lower AAV and buyout after 1 year. They’ve paid for enough injured pitchers, let’s not start in on fielders.

    The injuries are a bright flashing warning signal, and next year’s class of FA SSs tightens the choices this year, and if Garcia is truly a year away, the Reds can be picky here. Of course, Farmer/Blandino/Garcia-Sept.callup is the pickiest possible, and sadly likely.

  17. Hotto4Votto

    He’s definitely a clear 3rd for me among the top 3 FA SS. Much rather sign Didi or Semien. He’s better than Galvis, but I’m not sure that’s the bar we’re aiming to clear. He won’t improve the offense much which is where we need the biggest improvement. Questions about being able to stay on the field are valid.
    It would be better than doing nothing, but signing Simmons would be a fairly “meh” move in my opinion.

    • JayTheRed

      Also is Correa no longer an option in trade too?

  18. Still a Red

    I think the comment that Angels pick up Inglesias and willing to let Simmons walk is tell-tale. We need OBP. He seems to make contact, but grounds out. Farmer/Blandino can do that. Who knows, maybe Farmer breaks out.

    • earmbrister

      Kyle Farmer has a CAREER OPS+ of 73.

      Simmons has a CAREER OPS+ of 91, and gives you HOF defense.

      Apples vs Oranges

      • earmbrister

        As for the Angels being willing to let Simmons walk, I can understand that you would consider that to be a tell-tale. The Angels are a model of organizational efficiency:

        The Angels have had a losing record for FIVE straight seasons and counting. Let’s model the Reds to mirror them.

        And by the way, I don’t mean to be argumentative, I could, and have, made the same arguments to many of the posters on this thread. I just think that ANY of the top three FA’s at SS would be a huge improvement to the Reds lineup in 2021. SS and C were the biggest holes in the Reds lineup last year. Stephenson should help greatly at Catcher, we need a legit SS.

  19. Redsvol

    his defense is declining by most assessments. His offense is what it it – you can always try to manipulate statistics to say it would be better in GABP but I doubt it would be better than the back of his baseball card. So, why spend the $ on him when we have Garcia. I understand why you spend the $ on Gregarious and Simien, but this player, no.

    • JayTheRed

      Simple answer Garcia is a year or two minimum away from being ready to hit major league pitching. His hitting stats were just terrible. He is not ready yet.

  20. Roger Garrett

    I would have to check on how many at bats that Garcia had last year but lets please not throw him under the bus just yet.Reds get a quick snap shot of their young guys and make a quick assumption they can or can’t and its just silly to do that.Winker last year was just awful for awhile then nobody could get him out then he was awful again and this was in a span of 60 games.We know Garcia struggled but if he had hit 250 or so the Reds would be anointing him but the truth is we don’t know if he can hit.How about we just give him 300 or so at bats and see what happens and if he struggles then we just play Farmer.Reds are just not a short stop away from being a power house in the league.They could win the division and still be awful with anybody playing short stop because it depends on if the other hitters bounce back or not.Save the money and move on.

  21. AllTheHype

    The Jurickson Profar contract surprises me. That’s a larger commitment than I thought he’d get, complete with opt outs too.

  22. TXRedLeg

    I try to not be a Debby Downer about the Reds, but they’re not signing a top of line talent for SS – the 2021 SS will be a waiver wire pick up and will be someone that can either defend or hit, but unfortunately not both (or perhaps it he won’t be able to both, but does have major league experience giving him an edge over Garcia), and therefore available.
    The Reds payroll is burdened by overpaid veterans, or players that were simply overpaid (Shogo, Moustakas, Castellanos, Miley, ok…and Votto) that won’t be traded because of their contracts. The Reds really went all in for the win in 2020, created a Frankenstein roster, and were left holding the bag. And I don’t really blame the Reds – on paper they had a top tier pitching staff and a bunch of guys that (should have) hit (but maybe not defend that well or perhaps play out of position), it looked very much like it was their year. The only problem is when you don’t win big, with the big win $ that comes in a non-covid season, it’s a death knell for a smaller team.
    Now we’re paying the price – until these big contracts go away, we’re going to be the team of aging overpaid veterans, losing up and coming talent because we’re unable to pay extensions, and continuously scavenging from the waiver wire.
    The Reds took their shot and came up short and further devastated by covid – get used to AAA+ ball for a while.

  23. Frankie Tomatoes

    Team needs to hurry up and sign someone to play shortstop. They can’t afford to settle for their 4th option.