Andrelton Simmons, Twins Agree To Deal (www.mlb.com)

MINNEAPOLIS — It’ll probably be best for opposing hitters to avoid the left side of Minnesota’s infield in 2021.
The Twins have their new starting shortstop after agreeing to terms with free agent Andrelton Simmons on a one-year, $10.5 million deal Tuesday night, sources told MLB.com. It’s an addition that

MINNEAPOLIS — It’ll probably be best for opposing hitters to avoid the left side of Minnesota’s infield in 2021.

The Twins have their new starting shortstop after agreeing to terms with free agent Andrelton Simmons on a one-year, $10.5 million deal Tuesday night, sources told MLB.com. It’s an addition that figures to benefit Minnesota in several different ways, as Simmons not only provides a steep defensive upgrade, but also addresses the Twins’ need for a utility player by freeing up Luis Arraez to move around the infield.

The club has not confirmed the deal.

Simmons has earned a reputation as the position’s premier defensive wizard throughout his career, and the Twins will now have a chance to pair his highlight-reel glove alongside that of Josh Donaldson at the hot corner to make life much easier for the Twins’ pitching staff.

As a result of the move, Jorge Polanco is expected to become the starting second baseman, while Arraez will move to the multipositional role vacated by Marwin Gonzalez. Polanco made 200 appearances at second base in the Minors but hasn’t played regularly at the position since 2016. Arraez is already no stranger to moving around, as he split time between second base (49 appearances), shortstop (8), third base (17) and left field (21) during his 2019 rookie season.

Though the 31-year-old Simmons wasn’t as productive with the bat in 2019 or ’20, his four Gold Glove Awards and 2013 Platinum Glove Award (given to the best overall defender in each league) are among many indications of the extent to which he will improve the Twins’ defense. Simmons’ 113.1 Ultimate Zone Rating and 191 defensive runs saved since his debut in 2012 are, by far, the highest of any qualified shortstop in that span, more than double that of his nearest competitors.

In fact, according to Sports Info Solutions, Simmons has the most defensive runs saved of any defender in baseball over the last 10 seasons, with a healthy lead over second-place Kevin Kiermaier.

Simmons’ bat has regressed a bit over the last two seasons and he’s a career .269/.317/.379 hitter, but he does bring elite contact ability to the Twins’ powerful lineup, ranking within MLB’s top 10 percent of qualified players in both whiff rate and strikeout rate in each of the last two campaigns. He hit .297/.346/.356 without a homer in 30 games for the Angels last season and missed time due to a left ankle injury.

There is some upside in the bat to pair with the defense, too, as Simmons showed in 2017. That season, he finished eighth in voting for the American League Most Valuable Player Award after he posted a .752 OPS with 14 homers and 38 doubles — good for 7.8 Wins Above Replacement, per Baseball-Reference.

The Twins could have sought a utility replacement for Gonzalez, but that market shrunk over the last month with the signings of both Jurickson Profar by the Padres and Kiké Hernández by the Red Sox. A one-year commitment to Simmons also makes sense in organizational context, as

Royce Lewis is close to impacting the Majors but still needs some additional time to develop, and Polanco could remain available to slide over to shortstop if needed.

Minnesota already added right-handed reliever Hansel Robles and veteran left-handed starter J.A. Happ to its roster this offseason. The club could still seek additional help in the starting rotation and bullpen — and designated hitter Nelson Cruz remains unsigned.

Do-Hyoung Park covers the Twins for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark and on Instagram at dohyoung.park.



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