Update: Angels acquire Andrelton Simmons from the Braves
Update: The Mets can cross another shortstop off their offseason wish list as the Braves have traded Andrelton Simmons to the Angels according to a report from MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez.
After asking the Mets for one of Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom, the Braves will get back Erick Aybar, Sean Newcomb, Chris Ellis and $3M in cash from the Angels, per Joel Sherman of the NY Daily News.
While Simmons does bring stellar defense up the middle–something the Mets could definitely use–he’s never been much of a hitter in his young career, and it just wouldn’t make sense to part with such a large asset like a Harvey or deGrom for someone who isn’t a game-changer at the plate.
The Mets may not have acquired Simmons themselves, but this trade does benefit them in one way. Not only will the team–specifically Travis d’Arnaud–have to deal with Simmons’ stellar defense anymore, but they won’t have to deal with his bat, either, as he hit .328 against New York in his career.
For the Mets sake, the second best thing to acquiring Simmons themselves is to get him out of the division and out of the National League, and that’s exactly what’s happened.
Original Post: With a weak market for shortstops headlined by Ian Desmond and his disappointing 2015 season, the Braves may be strengthening that market while limiting Desmond’s suitors.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post says the Dodgers, Angels and Padres are all interested in acquiring Simmons, but talks have not progressed beyond the early stages.
Earlier this week, Mets assistant GM John Ricco said the Mets would be comfortable going into the 2016 season with both Ruben Tejada and Wilmer Flores as the club’s shortstop tandem, noting they got to the World Series with both of those players sharing those duties.
But Mets shortstops were tenth in the league with a 2.9 WAR, largely being carried by their offense as they were 26th in the league with a -9.0 ultimate zone rating (UZR) and dead last with -26 defensive runs saved (DRS).
Simmons would unquestionably be a defensive upgrade to both Flores and Tejada, as he led all Major League shortstops with a 17.3 UZR and 25 DRS in 2015. He would also come at a modest cost as he is entering the third year of a seven-year, $58 million contract in which he will earn $6 million in 2016.
Simmons, 26, is a defensive-oriented shortstop with 2013 being his best offensive year when he hit .248/.296/.396 with 27 doubles, 17 home runs and 59 RBI. He hit .265/.321/.338 with four home runs and 44 RBI in 147 games in 2015.
He has a career .304 on-base percentage, which might be a turn off for the Mets no matter what.
Presumably, the Mets would have to part with one of their young pitchers to headline a deal, and Joel Sherman of the New York Post says Atlanta has asked for either Matt Harvey or Jacob deGrom in return, which the Mets will not consider since there are questions about his bat.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports says the Braves have asked about Steven Matz in the past, but the Mets are maintaining their position that they will not move any of their top four starting pitchers in a trade this winter.
The Mets did inquire about Simmons’ availability at the trade deadline, according to Newsday’s Marc Carig, but those talks did not progress due to the asking price at that time, either.
And while the Mets are unlikely to trade Zack Wheeler or any of their other young starting pitchers, Ricco has not ruled out the possibility of Wheeler being moved.
“It’s a little bit different, only because he’s injured,” Ricco explained about Wheeler. “He’s different because he’s not going to be there for the first couple of months. So he’s different from our perspective. He’s different from another team’s perspective. But before the injury, he was viewed just as highly, or maybe even as a more highly regarded prospect and pitcher, than the other guys. So we still view him that way.”
Wheeler would make sense for the Braves. He won’t be 100 percent until 2017, the year they expect to contend when they move into their new ballpark. But because Simmons’ bat is indeed suspect, the Mets need to be careful how much they value that defense over what he might take away offensively.
Of course, his defense is above and beyond anyone else they might find or be able to cultivate in the next several years, so it’s not as though the Mets can totally discount this possibility.