Friday, February 21, 2014

Andrelton Simmons Signing is Biggest Steal This Offseason

On Thursday, Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons signed a 7 yr/58 million contract extension with his team.  I believe this is biggest steal in terms of long term( 4 yr+) contracts for the 2013-14 off season.
2014 Topps

If you are unfamiliar with Simmons, the 2013 season was his first full season in MLB at the age of 23.  He hit 17 HRs and knocked in 59 RBIs while batting .248.  He also had an on base percentage of .296 and slugging of .396.  But Simmons' fielding is his best attribute.  For the 2013 he won his first Gold Glove award and is already considered one of the best defensive shortstops in all of baseball.
This contract extension locks up Simmons for the Braves until his age 30 season with average of over 8 million per.  This will enable the Braves to have one of the best players up the middle throughout his prime years and before age starts to catch up to him.  Simmons' detractors will mention his low .248/.296/.396 offensive splits.  But, I believe he will improve on them as his career moves along.  Probably not by a huge margin, but an improvement nonetheless.  Even if these numbers are his average during his career, it isn't terrible if you include his glove also.  Simmons did wind up with a WAR of 6.8 last season, which was 8th best for hitters in MLB last season.  I think the Braves will take that on a yearly basis for 8 million/yr in a free agent market that becomes more expensive each year.
Lets see how Simmons' contract compares with the others from this off season.  Here are the other contract extensions:
Craig Kimbrel(25 yrs old)   Closer       Braves   4 yr/42 million
Julio Teheran (22 yrs old)   Pitcher       Braves   6 yr/32.4 million
Freddie Freeman(23)         1st base     Braves   8 yr/135 million
Homer Bailey (27)              Pitcher      Reds      6 yr/105 million
Clayton Kershaw(25)         Pitcher      Dodgers 7 yr/215 million
Michael Brantley (25)         OF           Indians    4 yr/25 million

It appears that the Kimbrel and Freeman deals could end up very well.  As for Kimbrel and all the pitchers, one can never predict if and when he will get injured.  Because pitchers are more prone to injuries, their contracts have more risk.
Freeman's deal is good also. He a solid middle of the order bat and has a good glove also.  His contract is longer and more expensive, so there is more risk here also.  In addition, with all things being equal, I will take a shortstop over a 1st baseman because every successful team is solid up the middle of the diamond.  And as for Brantley, he is a nice player, but not in Simmons' class and his contract mirrors that.

Here are the big long term free agent signings this off season:
Masahiro Tanaka (25)      Pitcher      Yankees   7 yr/255 million
Robinson Cano (31)         2nd Base  Mariners  10 yr/240 million
Shin Soo Choo (30)         OF           Rangers    7 yr/130 million
Brian McCann (30)          Catcher    Yankees    5 yr/85 million
Jacoby Ellsbury(30)         OF           Yankees   7 yr/153 million
Curtis Granderson(32)     OF           Mets        4 yr/60 million
Jose Abreu (27)             1B            White Sox  6 yr/68 million
Ubaldo Jiminez (30)         Pitcher     Orioles     4 yr/50 million
Matt Garza (30)               Pitcher     Brewers    4 yr/50 million
Jhonny Peralta (32)          SS           Cardinals   4 yr/52 million
Ricky Nolasco (31)         Pitcher     Twins        4 yr/49 million
Jason Vargas (31)            Pitcher     Royals       4 yr/32 million

As you can see, all but two of these players are in the 30-32 age range. Which means at some point in their respected contract there is likelihood that the player's production will show decline. The other two, Tanaka and Abreu will be playing in the USA for the very first time.  They are unknown commodities and will have more risk attached to them.
After comparing Simmons' contract with all the others this season, it looks like a bargain.  8 million a year for one of the best young shortstops in the big leagues and to have it last through his prime years.

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