St. Louis Cardinals and Andrelton Simmons: The Creative Solution
July 25, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons (19) makes a play after the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals won 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports
Last night, it was reported that the Braves were accepting offers on their star shortstop Andrelton Simmons. In my mind I have a list of players that I just want in a St. Louis Cardinals uniform, and my ears perk up anytime I hear their names thrown around. Andrelton Simmons is one of those players.
In case you didn’t know, Simmons is the best defensive shortstop in baseball and one of the top two or three defensive players to boot. Since 2012, he’s been worth 113 defensive runs saved, which puts him 24 DRS above the next best fielder (who happens to be Jason Heyward) and 71 DRS ahead of the next best shortstop. If you want to a decent comp, try thinking Brendan Ryan or maybe (maaaaybe) even Ozzie Smith. I know that’s blasphemy, but this kid is in that same tier, if not quite on the same level. Are you drooling yet?
It gets better — he can almost, kind of hit. Unlike Brendan Ryan, who sports an uninspiring 69 career wRC+, Simmons has a better 84 wRC+ mark. No, he’s not likely to win any Silver Sluggers or batting titles, but he should be a fairly consistent .260/.315/.330 player. It’s not a good offensive profile, but it isn’t so bad as to seriously want to keep him and his defense out of the lineup. At just 26 years old, there’s room to think that he could still develop and put up some league average numbers as well, not unlike Ozzie.
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The final good thing is his contract. Simmons is owed just $53 million and is signed through the next five years, which comes out to an average of just a hair over $10 million a season. That’s a fairly team friendly contract considering his age and impressive defense.
“But where would we put him Chris? We already have a shortstop!”
Yes, yes, I know, but where you see an obstacle, I see an opportunity. John Mozeliak’s new favorite word this off season is “creative,” and I have a very creative idea that might just help solve one of the St. Louis Cardinals problems.
Just this morning, Chris Gigley wrote about the Cardinals trade options at first base, but what if we didn’t trade for a first baseman? Instead, we could land a stud defensive shortstop, move Jhonny Peralta to third, where his diminishing range won’t hurt as much, and make Matt Carpenter the power hitting first baseman we always wanted. Additionally, Carpenter’s value should play up at first, since his defense should jump up some from roughly average. From there, we can have Piscotty, Adams, and Moss slot into first periodically to give everyone a break. So Peralta and Carpenter can be good for a full season and we add a 3-4 WAR shortstop for the next five years so we don’t have to panic when Peralta’s contract is up after 2017. That’s a win-win-win situation.
Hopefully I’ve convinced you that the St. Louis Cardinals should want Andrelton Simmons, but that leaves out the important part: how to get him. What would it take to acquire him in a trade? I don’t know. You might think less than Heyward, because he doesn’t have the bat that Heyward does, but he’s also signed for five years, so the deal for J-Hey seems like a pretty good point of reference. Perhaps a similar package built around lesser pieces, like Tim Cooney or Tyler Lyons and Corey Littrell, but that’s purely speculation.
Next: Five First Baseman the Cardinals Could Trade For
Regardless, I hope that Mozeliak gives the Braves a call, because I would love to see Simmons in Cardinal red, and I think he may be exactly the kind of creative solution the St. Louis Cardinals are looking for.