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OC Register: Angels’ Andrelton Simmons tries to bounce back in the final year of his contract

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TEMPE, Ariz. — Andrelton Simmons is looking at this season as a “challenge.”

The Angels’ Gold Glove shortstop was on a rising trajectory through 2018, having steadily improved his hitting while continuing to play otherworldly defense.

Now, he’s trying to bounce back from a 2019 season in which injuries sapped him of some of his production.

“I enjoy all I’ve learned and how much better I got than the expectations when I came into this league as a hitter,” Simmons said. “So it’s a challenge for me to do it, to keep doing what I’ve done the past couple years and keep improving on it.”

Although Simmons refuses to look at in the context of his contract, it certainly is relevant that he is looking for this bounceback season in the final year before he’s set to be a free agent.

The Angels have had internal discussions about an extension for Simmons, but have not talked to him or his representatives about it, owner Arte Moreno said last week.

“I’m not even thinking about it,” Simmons said. “The only time I think about it is when (the media) brings it up. It is what it is. All I can do is play. I’m going to try to get better in spring training and just play good and at the end of the day, we’ll be where we need to be.”

That starts with his physical condition. Simmons said he’s lighter this year, which was a reaction to twice suffering ankle injuries in 2019. He said he’s trying to “reduce the stress on the ankles” by being reducing the bulk.

Simmons first got hurt when he was lunging toward first to try to beat out an infield hit in May. He came back five weeks later, played for just about another month, and then hurt a different part of the same ankle in early August.

Around those two stints on the injured list, Simmons hit .264 with a .309 on-base percentage and a .676 OPS. He hit seven homers. His average, on-base percentage and OPS were all the lowest of his four seasons with the Angels.

The injuries “definitely affected me,” he said. “You have to learn how to play slightly limited. I was OK… I maybe lost the momentum I had, the rhythm and timing. I wasn’t stretching singles into doubles. I could move, but not as good.”

On defense, the advanced metrics had downgraded Simmons slightly, although he was still well above average. He was a finalist for the Gold Glove award, but Francisco Lindor snapped Simmons’ two-year winning streak.

Shortstop is typically one of the positions at which a player’s age impacts him the soonest.

Simmons, whose birthday is in September, will be playing in his age 30 season. Since 2000, there have only been 32 shortstops who had even a single season with 130 games at shortstop in their age 31 season or older, and only seven of them had more than two such seasons.

That wouldn’t seem to bode well for the chances of an extension for Simmons, but there is precedent for elite shortstops to continue into their late 30s. Derek Jeter, Omar Vizquel and Jimmy Rollins have all had at least five seasons as an everyday shortstop past age 31.

Simmons believes he’s in that category.

“All you have is the track record of what I’ve done recently,” Simmons said. “I can’t show you a crystal ball of the future, but I can show you what I’ve done throughout.

“I believe in myself. I know I can keep doing for quite a couple of years to come, and I’m still improving as a hitter. Even though it didn’t show up last year because of different things, I know I’m still improving as a hitter and still growing as a hitter.”

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22 minutes ago, AngelsWin.com said:

Simmons whose birthday is in September, will be playing in his age 30 season. Since 2000, there have only been 32 shortstops who had even a single season with 130 games at shortstop in their age 31 season or older, and only seven of them had more than two such seasons.

That wouldn’t seem to bode well for the chances of an extension for Simmons, but there is precedent for elite shortstops to continue into their late 30s. Derek Jeter, Omar Vizquel and Jimmy Rollins have all had at least five seasons as an everyday shortstop past age 31.

Simmons believes he’s in that category.

“All you have is the track record of what I’ve done recently,” Simmons said. “I can’t show you a crystal ball of the future, but I can show you what I’ve done throughout.

“I believe in myself. I know I can keep doing for quite a couple of years to come, and I’m still improving as a hitter. Even though it didn’t show up last year because of different things, I know I’m still improving as a hitter and still growing as a hitter.”

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One important name was forgotten.    Ozzie Smith played at least 132 games for nine straight seasons from ages 30 through 38 (1985-1993).

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I’m in the minority I guess.  I think they get an extension done.  Maybe it is because I think long term Rengifo is the guy that gets traded.  Fletcher isn’t a major league SS, he is a helluva 2nd baseman, but I don’t love either Fletcher or Rengifo at SS.  What would be nice is Rengifo as the super sub that plays everywhere after this season.  But just a hunch, when the trade deadline comes around as we are looking for the top of the rotation arm, Rengifo will be part of the package shipped out.  

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I think they’ll wait until after the World Series. 

Rengifo or Fletcher might wind up trade bait for a frontline arm as the season goes on. I think Simmons’ fate will be tied to the clubs...if they perform well this year, I bet they keep him around regardless of the cost and potential decline. If it’s another flop, may as well cut bait and go with a new or internal option. 

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14 minutes ago, totdprods said:

I think they’ll wait until after the World Series. 

Rengifo or Fletcher might wind up trade bait for a frontline arm as the season goes on. I think Simmons’ fate will be tied to the clubs...if they perform well this year, I bet they keep him around regardless of the cost and potential decline. If it’s another flop, may as well cut bait and go with a new or internal option. 

So you're saying re-sign him as a free agent. That's possible depending on how he plays out his contract - I personally really like the way Simba plays and the fan in me hopes he is back.

But I just can't see Eppler extending Simmons in his current situation. We know it was reported they are not talking now so it's very unlikely anything happens before the season starts. And why should it. The Angels have the leverage here. They can see how it plays out with Simba, Rengifo and Fletcher. They can also monitor the other 2021 FA shortstops. 

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1 hour ago, RBM said:

So you're saying re-sign him as a free agent. That's possible depending on how he plays out his contract - I personally really like the way Simba plays and the fan in me hopes he is back.

But I just can't see Eppler extending Simmons in his current situation. We know it was reported they are not talking now so it's very unlikely anything happens before the season starts. And why should it. The Angels have the leverage here. They can see how it plays out with Simba, Rengifo and Fletcher. They can also monitor the other 2021 FA shortstops. 

The leverage ends the minute he is healthy and performs.  

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