The Mets’ pursuit of a long-term answer at shortstop has been well-documented, and one of their latest endeavors was to explore the possibility of an intra-division swap that would bring Andrelton Simmons from Atlanta to Queens, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney (via Twitter). However, Olney hears that talks went nowhere, as the Braves placed such a high asking price on Simmons that it was “basically unreachable.”
That Simmons would come with an exorbitant asking price should be expected, as he is the game’s premier defender at shortstop (if not the game’s premier defender, period) and brings a competent bat to the table as well as a highly affordable contract. Over the past three seasons, Simmons leads not only all shortstops, but all qualified position players in both Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating. It’s not even close when it comes to DRS, as his +86 mark dwarfs the 61 runs credited to the also-excellent Nolan Arenado.
That elite glove is paired with a bat that has produced a .254/.303/.366 line. That’s hardly elite production, but it’s also weighed down by what looks to be a somewhat fluky down season in 2014. Simmons doesn’t walk much (6.1 percent in his career), but he also rarely strikes out (9.1 percent) and has a bit of pop in his bat, as evidenced by a 17-homer campaign back in 2013.
On top of that, Simmons is controlled through the 2020 season for a very reasonable total of about $54.1MM. He’s still owed roughly $1.1MM in 2015 in addition to annual salaries of $6MM, $8MM, $11MM, $13MM and $15MM over the life of the deal, which will conclude after his age-30 season. Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron recently placed Simmons 30th when ranking the Top 50 players in the game in terms of trade value. As he notes, Simmons hasn’t been much of a hitter yet, but plenty of teams would be happy to make the bet that his bat will improve before his glove declines, adding that his elite defense creates a very high floor.
The Mets have been oft-connected to shortstops over the past 18 months, with names such as Troy Tulowitzki, Starlin Castro and Javier Baez representing just a few of the players to be connected to GM Sandy Alderson’s club. They’re known to be on the hunt for some offensive improvements as well, though the acquisition of Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson and the recent promotion of Michael Conforto have lessened those needs, to some extent.