Minnesota Twins: Andrelton Simmons signing is big for multiple reasons

Andrelton Simmons, now with the Minnesota Twins. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
Andrelton Simmons, now with the Minnesota Twins. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

Tuesday night was a great night to be an MLB free agent and a good night to be a fan of the Minnesota Twins. As part of a run on free agenet shortstops, the Twins locked down one of the top defensive gloves in the game in Andrelton Simmons to a one-year deal.

Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, Simmons will make $10.5 million this season, a very good deal for the Minnesota Twins.

Minnesota Twins turn to Andrelton Simmons for shortstop role

The signing of Andrelton Simmons is a big move for the Minnesota Twins for multiple reasons. The first being that Minnesota now has a lock-down left side of their infield in Simmons and Josh Donaldson.

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Donaldson was worth 15 Defensive Runs Saved (Fangraphs) and nine Outs Above Average (Baseball Savant) at the hot corner in 2019. Despite mediocre numbers in 2020, Donaldson has been a reliable glove at third base when healthy and playing next to Simmons should make him feel even more comfortable.

As for Simmons, his mind-blowing defensive numbers have been well documented over the years. Simmons has recorded 43 OAA and been worth 73 Defensive Runs Saved since 2017. The next best shortstop in terms of DRS over that span has been Nick Ahmed at 56 DRS. Quite the difference between first and second place there.

Throw in one of the top defensive center fielders in Byron Buxton and the Minnesota Twins have an extremely strong group up the middle, a unit that will allow the starting rotation to feel pretty confident on a nightly basis.

Adding Simmons also forces Jorge Polanco to move over to second base. Polanco has recorded minus-25 OAA since 2017 at shortstop for the Minnesota Twins. Even if Simmons is not the generational defensive talent anymore, he’s still a massive upgrade over Polanco at shortstop.

Even better, last season’s Opening Day starter at second base, Luis Arraez, will now move into a super-utility role. The 23-year-old left-handed hitter slashed .321/.364/.402 with a 6.6 percent walk rate, 9.1 percent strikeout rate, and a 111 wRC+ in 32 games last season. Not many teams across the league will be pulling a bat like his off the bench.

Simmons doesn’t bring much in terms of offense to the organization, but the Minnesota Twins didn’t pay him for his bat. Nelson Cruz is still a free agent and the market for designated hitters is non-existent, leaving the Twins in a prime position to bring back their slugger and inject their power source back into what is an impressive lineup, top to bottom.

If the Twins can bring in one more starter to fill out a rotation currently consisting of Cy Young candidate Kenta Maeda, Jose Berrios, Michael Pineda and J.A. Happ, perhaps 2021 will be the year they can finally get over their playoff hump.

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For now, signing Andrelton Simmons to a $10.5 million deal when Marcus Semien just received $18.5 from the Toronto Blue Jays is a great move for the Minnesota Twins. It’s a financially smart deal with the potential to pay big dividends just with his defensive value.