In a shocking move, the Braves sent another one of their stars to the Los Angeles Angels. Simmons has been lauded by baseball experts as the best shortstop in the MLB. In fact, Simmons just won the Wilson defensive award for the best fielder in the majors. While Simmons is no doubt one of the best defenders in the league, and while many reporters have ridiculed this trade for the Braves, I completely see where the Braves are coming from with this deal. Yes, Simmons is on a reasonable 5 year, $53 million deal, and he is a once in a generation talent at shortstop, but his bat has been underwhelming for how much acclaim he receives as a player. Simmons has a career batting average of .256 and has never hit more than 17 home runs in a single season. The past two years he has only hit a combined 11 bombs. Simmons’ value comes from mostly from his stellar defense, which greatly contributes to to his 4.0 WAR in 2015. However, I am a big believer that offense is tougher to find than defense. Shortstop especially is a position where offense is not as easy to find. I don’t think that teams should pay that big of a price for a player’s defensive value.
The Angels gave away two their top pitching prospects in this trade, including left-handed pitcher Sean Newcomb, who is a top 20 prospect on mlb.com. Los Angeles doesn’t have a quality farm system including the two prospects they traded away. This trade will make their farm system even more barren, which means even more that the Angels are going all out to win a World Series title next year. I am a fan of Newcomb and I think he can be a front of the rotation starter with his combination of strikeout stuff and improving breaking ball, even though he does need to improve on his control as he averaged five walks per nine innings in 2015. The Braves are also getting a good shortstop in Erick Aybar, who has a career .276 average. The Braves are clearly trying to rebuild, but Aybar could give them another trade chip come July or even for this offseason.
I differ from common opinion and think that the Angels gave up too much for a shortstop who does not offer above average production at the plate. There is no denying that Simmons is fantastic in the field, but I strongly believe that he isn’t worth a top pitching prospect like Newcomb because of his deficencies at the plate.