Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons will undergo left thumb surgery, the club announced (h/t MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez; Twitter links). Simmons has suffered a “full thickness tear of the ulnar collateral ligament” in the thumb.
Angels GM Billy Eppler says that a typical recovery period for the procedure would be six to eight weeks, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register tweets. Notably, though, fellow middle infielder Jed Lowrie required what appears to be the very same procedure last year. His surgery took place in late April, and he did not return until the very end of July.
All told, it seems reasonable to think that Simmons can still have an impact in 2016, though obviously he’ll need a full-blown rehab build-up even if the recovery progresses well. Still, for a Halos club that’s been hit hard by injuries and is already five games under .500, it’s a major blow.
The 26-year-old Simmons was Eppler’s first major acquisition, changing hands at the outset of the offseason. The organization spent much of its remaining prospect capital to add a player who has staked a largely unassailable claim as the very best defender in baseball. While he’s never been anywhere near as useful at the plate — Simmons owns a lifetime .253/.301/.357 slash — the glove provided a lofty floor, and there was at least some hope that he’d trend up with the bat.
Things clearly haven’t gone quite as hoped. While Simmons has more or less continued his usual wizardry in the field, he has struggled out of the gate to a .219/.246/.281 batting line with just one home run in his first 118 plate appearances. To be fair, though, he’s still been quite a bit better than the player he replaced (Erick Aybar), though the organization is without its two best pitching prospects as a result of the deal.
Of course, Los Angeles’s interest in Simmons extends well beyond the present season. He’s controlled through 2020 under the extension he signed before the 2014 season with the Braves. The Halos owe Simmons $6MM this year and $47MM over the remaining four years of that contract.
While the club awaits the return of Simmons, it may need to rely on veteran utilityman Cliff Pennington at the position. Yunel Escobar could slide over to short, in theory, but he hasn’t played there for some time and Eppler has rejected that option (as Gonzalez tweets).