The Atlanta Braves have continued their spending spree this offseason, signing Andrelton Simmons to a seven-year contract. Multiple sources report that the deal is worth $58 million. The only thing that is surprising about the deal is that the Braves signed Simmons a full season before he was arbitration-eligible. Most thought that he would remain on his old contract until next offseason.
For the team, as far as money and talent goes, this contract is the best that they’ve agreed to this year.
The team will pay Simmons $8.2 million on average. The top three shortstops in the league will all make $16 million in 2014 (Troy Tulowitzki, Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez). When you think that his WAR in 2013 was 6.8, which was good enough for tops among shortstops and eighth in the league behind guys like Mike Trout (9.2), Robinson Cano (7.6) and Miguel Cabrera (7.2), it means that the Braves are paying Simmons just over $1 million for each win he is worth over his replacement.
The next closest player was Ramirez with a WAR of 5.4. Ramirez signed a contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers for six years and $70 million. When Simmons figures things out at the plate, he will be even more valuable than Ramirez and will become well worth the money the team is paying him.
That is quite reasonable for a player of Simmons’ caliber. He has the potential to win Gold Glove awards for the next number of years, and just finishing his first full MLB season at 23 years old, his offense has plenty of time to improve.
With his defense alone, Simmons has the ability to change games at any moment. He has great range and an even better arm from deep in the hole. He was streaky at times in the batter’s box last season, but when he is swinging the bat well, he can hit gap-to-gap just about as good as any shortstop in the game.
The Braves did well with the signing of Simmons. As he matures, one can imagine that his WAR will soar when he starts to hit. In his first full season, he finished 17th in MVP voting, and as he gets better, expect him to be in the top-10 or possibly top-5 range. This signing is clearly better than any other move that the Braves made this season — even over the Freddie Freeman deal.