The Athletics’ plans to build their new ballpark in the Howard Terminal area took a positive step forward when state officials unanimously voted that the State Lands Commission has the authority to decide whether a new stadium “is an appropriate use of the land,” Sarah Ravani of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Several other steps remain before the project is officially a go, such as two separate bills that have to be approved by California governor Gavin Newsom, plus an environmental impact report that should be completed by the end of 2019. If all goes well, the current timeline has construction underway in 2021, with an eye towards Opening Day 2023.
More items from around the AL and NL West….
- It’s been a tough season for Andrelton Simmons, who has battled ankle injuries while hitting .256/.301/.355 over 366 plate appearances. The timing of this down year is particularly poor for a shortstop who could well have been a prime extension candidate this winter, since Simmons is a free agent after the 2020 season. Now, however, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register wonders if the Angels could wait “until at least the middle of next season before deciding if they want to sign him to an extension,” to see if Simmons can rebound or if he is starting to decline. Simmons turned 30 just last week, and while he has never been a truly dangerous bat, he had at least posted above-average run production (as per wRC+) in both 2017 and 2018. Simmons also had the worst defensive season of his eight-year career, though “worst” is relative when discussing arguably the best defensive shortstop of all time — Simmons still posted +11 Defensive Runs Saved and +11.7 UZR/150. Trading Simmons seems like an unlikely option, though Fletcher wonders if the Angels could explore an extension that could overwrite his current 2020 salary ($15MM) and instead spread that money out over the length of the new deal in order to free up extra payroll space for Los Angeles to pursue pitching this offseason. Any extension talks, of course, would hinge on Simmons’ own thoughts, as he (like so many players did last spring) might prefer security now rather than deal with potential labor uncertainty at the end of the next collective bargaining contract. Then again, Simmons might likely feel he’s leaving money on the table by taking an extension in the wake of a down season, and might prefer to instead rebuild his value in 2020.
- It’s becoming more likely that Rockies outfielder David Dahl won’t play again this year, Nick Groke of The Athletic tweets. Even though Dahl’s progressing in his recovery from the ankle sprain he suffered Aug. 2, manager Bud Black admitted he’s “running out of time” for a 2019 return. Regardless of whether Dahl does come back, this will go down as yet another injury-limited season for the 25-year-old, who has combined for only 240 games since he debuted in 2016 (he didn’t play at all in ’17). A healthy Dahl, to his credit, has been an effective hitter – he got off to a .302/.353/.524 start with 15 HRs in 413 trips to the plate this year before landing on the shelf.
- Like Dahl, Padres righty Chris Paddack’s season could also be done, as AJ Cassavell of MLB.com observes. Paddack’s not injured, but the Padres have been monitoring the former Tommy John patient’s workload in his rookie campaign. The prized 23-year-old fired six shutout frames against the Cubs on Wednesday, raising his 2019 innings total to 135 2/3 – easily the most he has thrown in a professional season. Whether or not Paddack takes the mound again this year, this season’s sure to go in the books as a resounding success for him. Paddack has logged a 3.38 ERA/3.99 FIP with tremendous strikeout and walk rates (9.55 K/9 , 1.99 BB/9) in his first MLB action.