The Blue Jays looked into acquiring Andrelton Simmons prior to the August 31 trade deadline, and now that the shortstop is a free agent, veteran reporter Bob Elliott tweets that Toronto is again interested in Simmons’ services.
Simmons ended up playing in only 30 games in 2020, as he spent time on the injured list with a sprained ankle and also opted out of the season on September 22. Over the small sample size of 127 plate appearances, Simmons hit pretty well (.297/.346/.356, 99 wRC+ and 95 OPS+), and the Jays or any team would happily take that sort of league-average offense in combination with Simmons’ usual excellent defense. It’s worth noting that 2020 was by far the worst defensive season of Simmons’ career, though it’s fair to assume that his bad ankle contributed to his -1 Outs Above Average, -2 Defensive Runs Saved and +4.0 UZR/150.
That said, Simmons was also bothered by ankle problems in 2019, and has played in only 133 of a possible 222 games over the last two seasons. In ranking Simmons 17th on our list of the offseason’s top 50 free agents, MLBTR projected that the 31-year-old Simmons might have to take just a one-year contract this winter, as teams will be wary of making multi-year offers given his recent injury history and any potential questions about his glovework going forward.
A one-year deal would certainly seem to fit the Blue Jays’ plans, as the team still considers Bo Bichette to be its shortstop of the future but a short-term defensive upgrade is still very much a need. Signing Simmons would indirectly fix the Jays’ need at third base, since Bichette or Cavan Biggio could play the hot corner while the other plays second base. Simmons doesn’t have the offensive upside of other rumored Jays shortstop targets as Francisco Lindor or Didi Gregorius, but he might have the lowest price tag — Gregorius is surely looking for a multi-year contract after taking a one-year deal with the Phillies last winter, while the Jays would have to pay a hefty trade return to pry Lindor away from the Indians.