With the Luis Castillo trade rumors now squashed by Cincinnati Reds General Manager Nick Krall, it’s time for the front office to address the vacancy at shortstop heading into the 2021 season. Former Los Angeles Angels infielder Andrelton Simmons makes the most sense.
Is Simmons the best shortstop available on the open market? No, that title would go to either Didi Gregorius or Marcus Semien; take your pick. However, given the Reds reluctance to spend money this season, Simmons would be the perfect stopgap option until José García is ready for the big leagues.
Why should Andrelton Simmons be the Reds starting shortstop in 2021?
As currently constructed, the Reds would be forced to roll out either García or Kyle Farmer as the team’s starting shortstop for the upcoming season. Farmer is a dependable utility infielder, but not an everyday player. García is a highly-touted prospect, but he’s not yet ready for major league pitching.
So, Cincinnati can kick the can down the road a little longer, hoping that negotiations between Gregorius and Semien stall, or they can go out and sign the best defensive shortstop on the market for a price that won’t break the bank.
Simmons is not going to excite anyone within the front office or the fanbase with his offensive numbers. For his career, the 31-year-old has an OPS below .700. That said, while Cincinnati’s offense was atrocious last season, it’s hard to put a lot of stock into a 60-game season.
The Reds do not need to sign Andrelton Simmons for his bat.
Last winter, the Cincinnati Reds spent big. After signing Mike Moustakas, Nick Castellanos, and Shogo Akiyama, thee prevailing thought was that the front office did their job and got the hitting this team so desperately needed. Unfortunately, that trio of signings failed miserably to live up to expectations.
Castellanos started out the season looking like an MVP candidate, but finished his 2020 campaign with a .298 on-base percentage. Akiyama struggled to adjust during the early-going and was more of a rotational piece in the Reds outfield. Moustakas never got into a rhythm and multiple trips to the injured list saw him play in just 44 games.
Reds Country has to believe that those three players will return to their previous level of production with Akiyama leading off the batting order and setting the table for the big hitters like Castellanos, Moustakas, and Eugenio Suárez.
There’s also the matter of Nick Senzel, Cincinnati’s first-round pick in 2016 who has not shown the ability to stay on the field. If he can do that in 2021, it’ll be like adding an additional bat. Also, don’t forget about Tyler Stephenson who’s likely to split time with Gold Glove catcher Tucker Barnhart. Stephenson adds another offensive weapon to David Bell’s roster in 2021.
Andrelton Simmons would bring elite-level to the Reds.
One look at Baseball Savant will tell you how bad Cincinnati’s infield defense was in 2020. Only Eugenio Suárez recorded a positive Outs Above Average last season. García (0), Farmer (0), Moustakas (-1), Joey Votto (-2), and Freddy Galvis(-1) all finished at zero or below.
Normally a sure-handed shortstop, Andrelton Simmons recorded -1 OAA in 2020, albeit in just 30 games. However, Simmons’ four career Gold Gloves gives me confidence that the former second-round pick can return to form in 2021.
So, rather than sitting back and waiting on the market to develop, it’s time for Nick Krall and the Cincinnati Reds front office to aggressively go after Simmons. His market is not robust, so a one-year contract with a team-option would likely be enough to get him to sign on the dotted line and give Cincinnati an out if they feel García is ready for The Show in 2022.
Both Didi Gregorius and Marcus Semien are likely to secure longterm deals this offseason. The Reds don’t need a longterm option, but a one-year stopgap. Andrelton Simmons fits the mold and could be a back-of-the-batting-order in Cincinnati’s already loaded lineup.