The Phillies, Reds, and Jays (among others) are those taking a look at Andrelton Simmons, per MLB Insider Jon Heyman (via Twitter). The Phillies and Reds are natural fits for the former Angel, given their openings at shortstop. The Blue Jays have notably explored many avenues for improvement. In the case of Simmons, it would mean raising their defensive efficiency in the infield, presumably by installing Simmons at short and letting Bo Bichette slide to third, where he would no doubt be a plus defender. At present, it would be surprising if the Phillies and Reds aren’t able to nab a shortstop apiece from the group of Simmons, Marcus Semien, and Didi Gregorius, given their clear need compared to other teams around the league. Considering the group of shortstops that could become free agents next year, teams could be trying to limit their long-term commitments at the position, though that’s not as likely as negotiations simply hanging up because of total dollars as teams hunt value deals.
- Speaking of free agents to be, the Rockies’ Trevor Story may be the one of the bunch most likely to hit free agency next summer. At present, Colorado remains unmoved in their position to neither trade nor extend their star shortstop, per ESPN’s Buster Olney (via Twitter). At times this winter, they have been open to the idea of moving Story, but the most likely outcome still appears to be Story playing out the 2021 season in Coors Field and then hitting the open market.
- The Twins may be one of the mystery teams taking a look at Simmons. When asked by Darren Wolfson of SKOR North (video link) if Jorge Polanco would be their opening day shortstop, Twins GM Thad Levin said, “I think we look at our team and say Byron Buxton’s our opening day centerfielder, and Josh Donaldson’s our opening day third baseman – almost everyone else on our team has defensive flexibility. We view that as a huge boon to our team.” Wolfson notes that the Twins know the asking prices for free agent shortstops Simmons and Marcus Semien are keeping an eye on it.
- To be clear, Levine in no way implied that Polanco would not be a big part of their team in 2021, only that they consider the defensive malleability of the current roster as one of their advantages – both in the market and on the ball field. By DRS, OAA, and UZR, Polanco has measured as a subpar defender at shortstop throughout his career, and the Twins may see value in moving him to second in order to upgrade the infield defense on the whole. More broadly, the Twins appear keen on making the “best” free agent deal they can find, regardless of position. If flexibility really is central to the Twins’ philosophy, that could help explain any reticence they might have about locking Nelson Cruz into the designated hitter spot . That said, it’s hard to imagine finding any player better at their position than Cruz was as their DH the last two seasons (163 wRC+).