MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Twins feel they have one of the best infields in the American League for the 2021 season after signing Andrelton Simmons to a one-year contract.
The deal is reportedly worth about $10.5 million, and Simmons will be the starting shortstop when the regular season begins. Simmons, 31, is entering his 10th season in Major League Baseball and is a four-time Gold Glove winner, winning two straight in 2017 and 2018.
He’ll pair with Josh Donaldson at third base for the Twins, who should feature one of the top left sides of the infield in baseball. Simmons battled injuries in 2020 and played in 30 games, hitting .297 with seven doubles and 10 RBI with the Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim. He played 103 games in 2019, hitting .264 with seven homers, 19 doubles, 40 RBI and stole 10 bases.
He says his greatest impact will come on defense. In 100 chances over 30 games last season, he made just four errors and helped turn 10 double plays for a .960 fielding percentage. Two seasons ago, he had just 11 errors in 424 chances, and turned 56 double plays. Simmons turned 114 double plays with the Angels in 2018, a Gold Glove year.
Simmons said Sunday making plays on defense and getting outs will take the strain of Twins’ pitchers.
"If you can keep your pitcher from making an extra 15 pitches, keeping them from making those extra pitches every game by making sure you make every play, make as many plays behind him as possible, you’ve got a healthier pitcher," Simmons said. "You’ve got a better staff down the run, in the playoffs everybody is a little fresher and not as worn out. That’s part of what I bring to the table."
With Simmons expected to start at shortstop, the Twins will likely move Jorge Polanco to second base. That will make Luis Arraez a utility infielder between second, short and even third base at times.
The Twins will open the season with Jose Berrios, Kenta Maeda, Michael Pineda and J.A. Happ penciled in as starting pitchers. The final starter could be Randy Dobnak, but bringing back Jake Odorizzi remains a possibility.
Simmons has the reputation of being one of the best defensive shortstops in the American League, which should only help Twins’ pitching. Rocco Baldelli said Sunday it should allow for pitchers to be more aggressive with their approach in the strike zone.
"We have one of the best, I think, pitching staffs as a whole in the American League and for us to be able to complement that group with basically one of the greatest defenders of our generation and to be able to put Andrelton in at the shortstop position, which also allows us to really solidify everything going on in the rest of our infield as well. It doesn’t just add to our defense, I think it’s going to add to the way that our pitchers throw the ball," Baldelli said.