The deal at the time was widely respected, neither panned nor necessarily praised, as it was widely understood that the team’s primary target to replace Polanco, Marcus Semien, who ultimately signed with the Toronto Bluejays, simply did not want to come to Minnesota. Additionally, Simmons had been the definition of a generational talent defensively since his debut in 2012, so there was quite literally no better option on the market if improving the team’s defense was a top priority.
Simmons has largely lived up to his defensive reputation on his way to compiling 10 outs above average, according to Baseball Savant, placing him third in all of MLB. However, he’s committed six errors this season, three each throwing and fielding, and his fielding percentage of .968 would be the second-lowest of his career if the season ended today. (He registered a .960 fielding percentage during the COVID shortened 2020 season.) Even still, it would be difficult to argue that a better defensive shortstop exists in the Majors as of this moment, which alone justifies his hefty eight-figure salary.
But while Simmons’ glove hasn’t taken much of a dip, his bat has more or less fallen off of a cliff and it’s not as if his offensive “prowess” was akin to the peak of Mt. Everest.
The 10-year veteran is currently averaging career-worsts in the following key offensive categories:
- Exit Velocity: 83.5 mph (peaked at 88.2 mph in 2018)
- Launch Angle: -3.1 degrees (peaked at +9.5 in 2019)
- Hard Hit%: 25.6% (peaked at 36.1% in 2018)
- Whiff%: 20.1% (low: 11.8% in 2015)
- K%: 17.8% (low: 7.3% in 2018)
Simmons owns a .311 batting average on balls in play and has barreled only one(!) of his last 223 batted balls over the last two seasons. If anything, some good luck is preventing his numbers from looking worse. Simply put, Andrelton Simmons, who was never exactly known for his intimidating presence at the plate, is a complete non-factor offensively, even more so than usual.
To recap: Simmons has been solid defensively, but is showing some signs of decline, he’s having by far his worst season at the plate, and he isn’t signed beyond this season.
So, the question then becomes: What should the Twins do with Andrelton Simmons as the summer progresses? The answer is fairly straightforward, but trading Simmons may be more difficult than it sounds in theory.
For starters, most teams in playoff contention, the kind of team that would be the most likely to swing a trade for Simmons due to his age and defensive capabilities, are already pretty set at shortstop, something touched on by Matthew Taylor here. A quick glance over most MLB rosters that are hovering towards the top of the division and wild card standings doesn’t reveal much in the way of obvious fits for Simmons.
One potential fit could be the Chicago Cubs, but only if they decide to move on from Javier Báez during the season. Báez isn’t likely to return to Windy City next summer, so shipping him out for prospects may make sense, even as the Cubs stand in second place in the NL Central with a 34-27 record, 0.5 games out from the first-place Milwaukee Brewers.
Similarly, the St. Louis Cardinals make some sense as current starter Paul DeJong is currently on rehab assignment and was batting .177/.277/.371 before going on the injured list. But DeJong is only 27-years-old and is under team control for a few more years.
However, if Simmons is traded, to a contender or otherwise, expect the return the Twins get in exchange to be rather unimpressive. The most they could likely expect in return is a low-mid-level prospect, perhaps someone akin to infielder Seth Gray or pitcher Chris Vallimont in the Twins’ system (i.e. a prospect with potential, but glaring flaws).
Andrelton Simmons is not in the Twins’ long-term plans and was only ever brought on to fill a one year gap before Royce Lewis’s arrival. While Lewis may not appear until late in 2022 after tearing his ACL earlier this year, Simmons’ overall disappointing season makes it wise for the team to move on from him by before the arrival of August. Just don’t expect much in return.