Despite shedding salary for much of the offseason, the Reds are known to be in the market for a shortstop, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweets that they’re among the clubs who’ve shown some interest in Andrelton Simmons.
It’s a natural connection to be drawn, of course, as Simmons is one of the top three free-agent options at the position alongside Marcus Semien and Didi Gregorius. That trio of free-agent shortstops represents a rather across-the-board skill set from which interested parties can choose. Gregorius is the most consistent offensive performer of the bunch but has the weakest defensive ratings of the group. Simmons is a generational defender but, even at his best, only a slightly above-average bat. Semien is the most well-rounded of the three and offers the highest offensive ceiling (evidenced by his mammoth 2019 season), but his overall track record at the plate is more modest than that of Gregorius.
The Reds have plenty of options to pursue if they’re intent on adding a shortstop, as the trade market also presents a few options even after the Mets’ acquisition of Francisco Lindor. The extent to which owner Bob Castellini is willing to spend to fill the need remains to be seen, however.
The Reds effectively dumped Raisel Iglesias’ $9.125MM salary on the Angels earlier this winter, and they non-tendered Archie Bradley despite a projected arbitration salary in the $5-6MM range. Cincinnati also cut backup catcher Curt Casali on the heels of a productive trio of seasons, and the Reds have reportedly been open to trading Sonny Gray as well. (Luis Castillo’s name has surfaced in rumors, too, although GM Nick Krall strongly denied his availability and plainly stated he expects the right-hander to be in this year’s rotation.)
Cincinnati has also been linked to both Gregorius and Semien at various points this winter, just as they’ve been speculated as a potential fit if the Rockies ultimately look to move Trevor Story. There’s no indication that there’s any preference for Simmons over that trio and other shortstop targets, but given that he’s coming off a pair of injury-shortened seasons, he could be the most affordable option.
Simmons, 31, was out to a strong start in 2019 before a Grade 3 left ankle sprain sidelined him for more than a month. His offense cratered upon returning from the injured list, and he was placed back on the IL just weeks later. His already modest power was nowhere to be seen in 2020, and he missed time this past season with his third left-ankle injury in just over one calendar year. Beyond that, his typically brilliant defensive ratings have taken a slide as he’s navigated those ankle woes.
A healthy Simmons is arguably the best defensive player in baseball — perhaps the best defensive player of the current generation — but he’s also now in his 30s and has some notable injury question marks on his recent track record. It’s not at all out of the question that he could bounce back with the glove and/or at the plate if the ankle is healed up, but his free-agent stock has clearly taken a tumble since his outstanding 2017-18 performance.
All three of Semien, Gregorius and Simmons have another wrinkle to consider in free agency this winter, as the possibility of taking a one-year pact and returning to market next winter isn’t as appealing as it might be in a normal winter. Next year’s free-agent class will not only include the aforementioned Story and Lindor, but also Corey Seager, Javier Baez and Carlos Correa.