*UPDATE: Simmons has signed with the Minnesota Twins*
While the J.T. Realmuto saga continues to linger on (apparently the Atlanta Braves are interested now?), the Phillies have also started heightening their interest in a new starting shortstop. Unless you count an aging, slower Jean Segura, the Phillies aren’t currently rostering a starting-caliber shortstop, and will likely need to turn to free agency to fill that position for the 2021 season.
Phillies set to make a serious run at Andrelton Simmons?
“Phillies interest in free-agent shortstop Andrelton Simmons has recently picked up, sources said. The team has continued to monitor Freddy Galvis and Didi Gregorius in addition to staying in touch with J.T. Realmuto.”
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Howard Eskin of SportsRadio 94WIP reported a similar bit of news, and MLB insider Jon Heyman went as far as to say that the Phillies “are very likely to sign one of those”, in reference to the three previously mentioned free agent shortstops (Simmons, Didi Gregorius, and Freddy Galvis).
Realmuto will likely have to be the first domino to fall before anything gets finalized with the likes of Andrelton Simmons, but it makes a plethora of sense for the Phillies to be interested in a free agent like this. Not only do the Phillies have a hole to fill at the shortstop position, but they desperately need a boost to their infield defense. Philadelphia had one of the worst performing defenses in the MLB last season, and Simmons is arguably the best defensive shortstop to ever play the game.
Simmons currently has the highest defensive WAR amongst all active players (26.6), and ranks 14th all-time.
If the Phillies are serious about boosting their middle infield’s defense this offseason, you (statistically speaking) can’t do any better than Simmons. On top of the before mentioned four Gold Gloves, he also has one Platinum Glove and one “Wilson Overall Defensive Player of the Year” award. The accolades speak for themselves.
Howard Eskin reported that the Phillies were focused on landing Simmons via a one-year deal, which makes sense considering the borderline historic shortstop free agent class that looms ahead in 2022. Dave Dombrowski will likely want to be a player in that market, and even if they miss out, they have prospect Bryson Stott to fall back on. It would make little sense to sign Simmons (or Didi/Galvis for that matter) to a multi-year contract given the current landscape.
As long as the Phillies are able to lockup Realmuto first, Simmons would be a pretty sweet addition. His defense is obviously spectacular, and his bat isn’t as bad as people like to make it out to be. He’s a career .269 hitter and has seen his average climb up into the .280s and .290s in the past. He won’t give you the power that someone like Didi brings to the table, but it’s a worthwhile tradeoff when you consider Simmons’ all-time great defense.