One of the biggest decisions for the Angels this offseason will be whether or not to bring back shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who is set to be a free agent for the first time in his career.
Simmons, who turned 31 on Friday, remains one of the game’s best defensive players, but his past two seasons have been marred by ankle injuries. David Fletcher has also emerged as one of the Halos' best players, and he fared well at shortstop earlier this season when Simmons missed 22 games with a sprained left ankle. But manager Joe Maddon said Saturday that if it was up to him, he’d like to see Simmons re-sign with the club.
“I'd love to,” Maddon said. “And that's up to [general manager] Billy [Eppler] and the guys. How could you not love Andrelton Simmons playing shortstop for you? Always want to wish whomever the best for them and their family. I'm not here to negotiate for Andrelton or against the Angels. He's just a really good baseball player that I think any team would love to have.”
The Angels will have to decide whether Simmons is worth extending a qualifying offer, or if they believe they could get him to sign a multi-year deal with a lower average annual value than the qualifying offer, which was $17.8 million last year. Simmons will have a say as well, but he’s been mum about his plans for free agency, other than expressing that he enjoys playing for the Halos.
If the Angels bring back Simmons, they could start Fletcher at second base and use Luis Rengifo and Franklin Barreto as super-utility players. But if they don’t bring back Simmons, they would start Fletcher at short and then platoon Rengifo and Barreto at second, unless they acquire another second baseman.
Simmons, a four-time Gold Glove Award winner, was limited to 103 games last year, hitting .264/.309/.364 with seven homers and 40 RBIs. He's fared better offensively this year, but with less power, batting .339/.391/.356 with a double and no homers in 15 games entering Saturday.
“I just think as he continues to mature as a player, it's all about the mental approach and what he wants to get done at the plate, because he's able to manipulate the bat head with some really good hands,” Maddon said. “So that's what you're seeing right now. This is the template, for me, that gets him on the All-Star team. We're very fortunate to have him here. The tank is far from empty, and especially the brain. The brain really works well on a baseball field. I'm a big fan."
Walsh confirms delay due to positive COVID-19 test
First baseman Jared Walsh was a late arrival to Summer Camp and said it’s because he tested positive for COVID-19 about a week before camp opened. Walsh said his symptoms were mostly minor, but it kept him from any baseball activity for three to four weeks.
Walsh hit his first homer of the season on Friday, marking his third straight game with an extra-base hit, and he's starting to feel more comfortable at the plate. He’s expected to share time at first base with Albert Pujols down the stretch.
“If we're being totally honest, I didn't feel great in Spring Training, the initial one or Summer Camp, but traditionally, in my career, I've kind of been a person who, for better or worse, it takes a little time to heat up,” Walsh said. “I think it might have been a little bit of a struggle for me, because I was sitting on the couch for a month, but I think the most important thing was reps I got at Long Beach and really putting in the work and facing some good pitchers down there.”
Peters recalled as 29th man
Left-hander Dillon Peters had been bothered by an oblique strain that has kept him out of action this year, but he was called up as the club’s 29th player for Saturday’s seven-inning doubleheader against the Astros. Peters, 28, had a 5.38 ERA in 72 innings last year and can bring some length to the bullpen.
“He’s been doing fine,” Maddon said. “He’s up to four innings and 60 pitches. I saw him in the past when he was with Miami. He knows what he’s doing, he knows how to pitch.”
MLB raises awareness for childhood cancer
For the fifth consecutive year, MLB and its clubs raised awareness for childhood cancer during all games on Saturday for a special league-wide day in home ballparks. MLB’s “Childhood Cancer Awareness Day,” held during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in collaboration with Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), combined a visual and ceremonial demonstration of support for the cause with outreach to local hospitals treating young patients in their communities. Childhood cancer is the leading cause of death by disease among children in the United States and Canada.
The Angels joined all on-field personnel, including players, coaches and umpires around baseball, in wearing gold ribbon decals and wristbands during Saturday's doubleheader against the Astros. Clubs also featured ceremonial activities in ballparks. Club activities included pregame ceremonies, cardboard cutouts of pediatric patients in stands at ballparks, virtual patient first pitches, virtual player hospital visits and more.
Childhood cancer awareness efforts in previous seasons have included special pediatric cancer awareness batting-practice T-shirts, online campaigns to empower fans to hold fundraisers for pediatric cancer research and donations to local children’s hospitals. MLB and its clubs have supported the fight against cancer through a variety of initiatives for many years. As Stand Up To Cancer’s founding donor, Major League Baseball has pledged more than $50 million to SU2C’s collaborative cancer research programs, providing invaluable support. Launched in 2013, the work of the Stand Up To Cancer/St. Baldrick’s Foundation Pediatric Cancer Dream Team has helped to develop new immunotherapy approaches and contributed to the development of two new treatments for difficult-to-treat pediatric leukemias that have been approved by the FDA. MLB has recognized SU2C at its jewel events since the '09 World Series.