Worst Trades in Braves History: Andrelton Simmons

Andrelton Simmons fielding | Atlanta Braves vs. Milwaukee Br… | Flickr

Note from Ryan: Today’s piece, Worst Trades in Braves History, Andrelton Simmons, is a complete contradiction from a post that I made 2 days ago on Braves One Year Wanker, Erick Aybar. In that piece, I said this:

While it might be too early to call the Andrelton Simmons trade, back in November of 2015, one of the worst in Braves history (I mean, it is minutely possible Sean Newcomb could salvage the trade that has a MONSTROUS gap in value right now… good luck, Newk)…

Ryan C.

Let’s be honest here, Snowshine’s right. There’s less than 10% chance that Newcomb will be able to close the gap in value. I applaud Snowshine for calling a spade a spade.

Worst Trades in Braves History: Andrelton Simmons

On Nov 12, 2015, the Braves traded Andrelton Simmons and Jose Briceno to Angels for Erick Aybar, Chris Ellis, and Sean Newcomb

Year Angels WAR Braves WAR

2016 4.4 -0.1

2017 7.8 1.4

2018 6.3 1.6

2019 1.9 1.2

Well that was fair so far. At least we saved about $44M to not get that production.

Thanks for reading on Worst Trades in Braves History. Check out our whole series of Best/Worst Trades in Braves History here and enjoy this (or cry a lot) video of Andrelton being awesome.


55 thoughts on “Worst Trades in Braves History: Andrelton Simmons”

  1. Chief Nocahoma says:

    May 12, 2020 at 11:24

    As a thought exercise, what type of return would a deal centered on Waters bring?

  2. blazon says:
    May 13, 2020 at 6:13 am

    @3

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    It may be months, it won’t be years
    Inky Pinkie parlez vous?

  3. @Chief

    Waters is an interesting debate. For most people, he’s a consensus top-50 prospects, but for Keith Law, he didn’t make the top-100. He looked awful in Spring Training and the attitude took the spotlight. With above average defense in the outfield and the ability to switch hit, Waters could be the headliner to grab a 4-5 WAR player with 2 years of control.

  4. Sure the trade has been a little one sided so far, but I hope you noticed the trend. The gap in WAR has narrowed each of the past two seasons. At this rate, if Newk has the longevity of Glavine, Smoltz, or Niekro, he just might overtake Andrelton.
    Or if for some reason Simmons never plays again, Newcomb would only need to accumulate about 16 additional WAR to overtake him. Here is a homework assignment. How many Atlanta Braves pitchers have career WAR of at least 20? (Newcomb already has 4.3)

  5. That’s an interesting question TFloyd. I’m going to guess the 4 HoFers, Niekro, Glavine, Maddux, Smoltz, and add Tim Hudson as the only 5 to accumulate that much WAR in Atlanta

  6. Karl,

    On the 44 million difference, is that (a) JUST Andrellton’s salary or (b) the net of the difference between Andrellton’s salary and what the Braves paid to their “haul”?

    Assuming (a), the 44 million in cost is about the amount to bring in 5 WAR. The current WAR differential is roughly 24 to 4 or 20 in favor of the Angels. So, minus 136 million, for now.

    Newcombe has this year (whatever that is) and 3 arb years. His WAR has run about 1.2 in each of the last 3 years, two of which were partials. If he pitches as a 4 or 5 starter he would get 160 to 180 innings and probably produce 2 WAR for the 3 arb years. So, that is 54 mill in value plus whatever for 2020. Salary at that production would be maybe 20 million total. So, that covers 34 million of the 136 million deficit.

    Meanwhile, Andrellton’s contract ends at 2020. He gets paid 15 million for a whole season. Even with proration of pay, reality is somewhere from no value on the low end to 12 or so on the high end.

    So, basically, Newcombe’s 3 arb years would need to average about 6 WAR and pick up about 1 WAR this year to make it even. I guess I will take the under on that.

    I think Coppolella undervalued Andrellton’s hitting and defense. First, the defense ratings were considered too high and too likely to decline. Second, his hitting was probably seen as such a mess it will never be even half decent. What he has done overall with the Angels is probably a little better than I expected, but not way better.

  7. It was Andrelton’s guaranteed salary (which runs through the end of this year), minus what we paid Aybad and Newcomb, plus the money the Angles sent over.

    To answer Chief’s question, trades based on prospects are usually calculated based on the prospect’s floor plus some bonus for projection/ceiling. Water’s floor is a good AAAA player/platoon 4th outfielder. Unless ‘Thoppy finds someone who will actually pay a premium for the ceiling (basically, peak Josh Hamilton) then I don’t anticipate a trade unless the team has soured on the kid.

    Ryan, why did the formatting screw up? It looks great in edit mode in WordPress.

  8. Andrelton had 2 seasons of 5+ WAR with the Braves. Even if 60% of the value was defensive, he was worth more than Newcomb plus the money saved. I hated this trade even more than the Olivera trade at the time both were made and I stand by that judgement, even though my dislike for the 2 were in opposition (I didn’t think we got enough salary relief to justify jettisoning Simmons and thought we took on too much salary with Olivera).

  9. I HATED the trade at the time, and I hate it a little less now. Maybe it helps that Andrelton had a terrible offensive season this past year, and that gives me hope that his two seasons of league average offense were an aberration. If that’s the case, then Newcomb can begin to catch up. We’re now in the territory Atlanta was trying to avoid: paying a no-hit shortstop $15M per year, and that is exactly what the Angels might be doing this year.

    If he were to have another mediocre offensive year, then that tips the scales a little bit. And since he departs as a free agent at the end of this year, that seals the Angels’ side of the deal. The concern was that Andrelton was going to be this 5-7 WAR shortstop for yearly contract earnings of $6M, 8M, 11M, 13M, and $15M. While he was still insanely valuable, that didn’t quite happen. And you can make the argument that the juice has already been squeezed as far as getting surplus value out of Andrelton.

    Now it’s more Newcomb’s turn. Newcomb has provided the value he’s provided for the league minimum so far. It wasn’t much production, but it was cheap. He’ll make the league minimum this year, then we have 3 more arb years with him, if I’m understanding his service time correctly. If Newcomb can either become a reliable starter or a late-inning reliever, then it’s possible he could generate enough surplus value to get close to matching what Andrelton has done for the Angels.

    If Newk were to stay a late-inning reliever for the next 4 years, then the WAR calculation is not going to be kind to Newk. WAR LOVES Andrelton’s defense, and WAR doesn’t love late inning relievers. You could figure out some sort of comparison of WPA to WAR, then I think it’s possible to clearly compare a late-inning reliever and a shortstop who derives the majority of his value from his defense. Otherwise, if Newk can crack the rotation, then he has an opportunity to accumulate a lot of WAR.

    Prediction time: When this offseason started 17 long years ago, I thought Newk would take the 5th starter spot, and nothing has happened since then to persuade me otherwise. I think if Newk legitimately were to have earned it, we had a full season, then ::craziness alert:: Newk could have given you a really good season, potentially 3 WAR. And then I think he would be able to sustain that through the life of his control. So for the next 4 years, on average, he’d give you 3 WAR a year, 12 total, for very little money. Only at that point, this trade looks a little worse. If that happened, he’d have provided about 15 WAR for about $15-20M, whereas Andrelton has provided 14.8 fWAR for $38M so far with his highest payday coming this year. If Andrelton has another mediocre offensive year, then you’re looking at around 17 fWAR for $53M, which is still an insane value, but not nearly as bad as we all feared.

  10. https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/s/simmoan01.shtml

    He’s been close to league average as a hitter in LA and was very below avg in Atlanta.

    If you value defense, its an insanely bad trade. If you don’t value defense (I don’t) it just becomes a bad trade but not an all-timer.

    IMO, A.S. is an empty player. I view Enciarte as an empty player. They don’t move the needle either way for your franchise. They’re just ‘there’. They don’t really hurt you, but they help you less than their sabermetric stats would indicate that they do.

    The Angels haven’t won squat with him, and in fact have gotten worse since he’s gotten there.

    The Braves just won two Division titles without him.

    Based on some performances, Newcomb has the potential to be much more valuable than Simmons ever has in modern MLB which places value on hitting over defense to an extreme. If Simmons played in a bygone era he’d have been a 1st ballot HOF.

  11. It’s amazing to me that people can watch the shortstops we’ve ran out since Andrelton (including Dansby) and not see the value in an elite defender at a premium defensive position.

  12. I watched Andrelton Simmons in Atlanta, and I’ve watched Kevin Kiermaier in Tampa Bay, and you can’t tell me that these guys are having their value miscalculated by WAR.

    I mean, I get it, if you’re an offensive zero, then you simply can’t provide that much value. Chief, you’re arguing against yourself. Fangraphs had Andrelton at 1.7 fWAR even though he provided tremendous defense because he had a 81 wRC+. They agree with you; a player cannot just play defense to a 5 fWAR.

    I think you’re thinking that Andrelton Simmons is, say, Mark Lemke. An up-the-middle player with no bat who also doesn’t play that great of defense. And yes, I would agree with you that the Mark Lemke’s of the world provided much less value to Atlanta than he is being given credit for. But Fangraphs, once again, agrees with you: Mark Lemke averaged less than 1.5 fWAR per season when he was a full-timer in Atlanta.

    But the balls don’t catch themselves, and when they get caught at a significantly above average clip, those players can be valuable as long as they’re not an offensive zero.

  13. The day that the Braves traded Andrelton Simmons, something broke inside me as a Braves fan. It was such a gut punch to me as a fan — it was them telling me that not only had they traded all the stars who might be able to bring a positive return, they were prepared to rip up everything to the studs. The fact that they couldn’t see a way to use best defensive shortstop in major league history in a pitching-centric rebuild showed me that they were unmoored. They didn’t want to spend a dime on the major league team.

    Quick example. You think Matt Wisler might have had a better major league career with Andrelton behind him instead of Erick Aybar? I sure do. The best year of Wisler’s career was his rookie year, the only year he pitched in front of Simba. There’s a Gwyneth Paltrow-in-Sliding Doors-sized what-if for that guy’s career.

    If these bums win the World Series, I’ll get over the Andrelton trade. Until they do, I’ll always be a little bitter about it.

  14. I’m with Alex here — this was not the worst trade by dollars or by WAR — it was the worst because it was unnecessary AND set back the timetable for the next good Braves team. Given the $ we then turned around to spend on Bartolo and Olivara the only explanations seem to be either Coppy had multiple personality disorder or we thought Simba’s future offensive output would never even approach dreadful.

    I gave them something of a pass on the Olivera deal as I both trusted the scouts and didn’t buy Peraza as a top prospect. This one hurt: having Albies and Simmons together up the middle would have been beyond special

  15. Exactly the same. I trusted the scouts on Olivera and I was willing to swallow the cost. Simba was irreplaceable, and even with a massive heist, turns out that replacing a generational shortstop is harder than it looks. Dansby’s a guy who we hope will give us 3 wins, and so is Newcomb, and neither has ever come close to doing so. Simba’s a guy who the Angels hope will give them 5 wins, and he’s already done so. That’s a categorical difference.

  16. Weird retrospective look…but the Shelby Miller for Javier Baez deal that was reported fell through then eventually Coppy took Stewart out for lunch and convinced him to deal Dansby, Inciarte, and Blair for Miller.

    Now question…which trade would’ve worked out better? As odd as it sounds, it’s got to be Baez, right?

  17. In hindsight, sure, Baez is the best player in either deal so he makes the most sense. At the time, however, nobody was rating Baez over Dans, plus we got the meat of Ender’s career, and the fact that we screwed up Blair’s development shouldn’t negate the fact that he was also a good prospect.

    Wow. That might be the worst sentence I have ever written. Let the drinking begin!

  18. It’s a bad trade, and it was at the time. And I say that as someone who ran very hot and cold on Simmons: hot when he made a spectacular play to save a game, cold when he popped up on the first pitch of a potential gamebreaking at-bat for seemingly the fifth time in a week (if you can consider heaving my remote against the wall “cold,” that is).

    The trade didn’t make a whole lot of sense in any way except that we were in the “sell off non-essential pieces of the ship while still sailing” portion of the rebuild. I think when that’s the mode you’re in, you’re almost always going to get burned on value unless you get exceptionally lucky, which…we did not. Aybar was Aybar and Newcomb has been way too inconsistent to provide enough to make the trade close to worthwhile. If the latter could harness the version of himself that nearly no-hit one of the best offenses in baseball a couple years ago, maybe it would be closer. But he hasn’t, and it seems unlikely (though far from impossible) that he ever will IMO.

    I do think folks have tended to forget just how infuriating Simmons was offensively, however. Similar in a relative sense to the years where Andruw Jones couldn’t hit or lay off of a slider to save his life, it didn’t look as bad when you were looking at the numbers at the end of the season, but on a day-to-day basis, it drove one to alcoholism.

    While I generally agree with Chief that defense is overrated, though, I think it’s less overrated at shortstop than most other positions and there’s a difference between good defense and otherworldly defense.

  19. That might be the only time anyone has used Gwyneth Paltrow in a good analogy about Braves baseball. I can’t decide if I should be embarrassed for understanding it.

  20. Let’s say Newk has the season this year that Jon Lester had when he was 24 years old: 3.21 ERA, 3.64 FIP, 210 IP, 6.5 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 0.6 HR/9. Remember, Lester sucked until he didn’t: 4.68 ERA, 4.86 FIP, 4.6 BB/9, 6.9 K/9 his first two years in the league. I use Lester for this example since Newk has been compared to Lester so much.

    Does your opinion of the trade change at all if he has a good season in the rotation?

    I think the trade was stupid, but I just don’t want to give up on Newcomb being so good that not only can he help us in the rotation, but he can be good enough for long enough that it balances the scales of this trade, which is obviously what they thought would happen when they made the trade. It’d be a rocky road, but all’s well that ends well for us and Newk if the time in the bullpen helped him.

    It’s also hard for me to evaluate this trade since Newk has been so mismanaged. Consider two pitchers who were acquired during the rebuild.

    Folty, 2014 through 2017 (ages 22 through 25, 4 seasons): 382 IP (!!!!), 4.87 ERA, 4.49 FIP, 1.461 WHIP, 10.1 H/9, 1.4 HR/9, 3.1 BB/9, 8.1 K/9

    Newcomb, 2017 through 2018 (ages 24 through 25, 2 seasons): 264 IP, 4.06 ERA, 4.16 FIP, 1.420 WHIP, 8.1 H/9, 1.0 HR/9, 4.7 BB/9, 9.1 K/9

    “Yeah, but Rob, you don’t understand. I can’t watch the guy pitch. His command is horrible.”

    Ok, well, Folty also might be certifiably crazy, so we all have our issues.

    But Newcomb gets demoted to the bullpen after 2/3 the amount of innings that Folty got, and Folty remains. And Newcomb’s a 255 pound lefty, which is significantly harder to find than a 175 pound right-handed pitcher who apparently can’t even hydrate and nourish properly.

    If you were looking at both of these guys on paper, you’d choose Newcomb, but I recognize that he’s maddening to watch, which is probably playing into a lot of this discussion. But if Newcomb’s spends his next 4 seasons being a productive starter, we probably won this Andrelton trade. And that’s the problem with some of these trades; you can’t know the winner and loser until 6-7 years down the road.

  21. @24 Based on the info we had at the time, I think the Dansby trade was the better trade.

  22. That might be the only time anyone has used Gwyneth Paltrow in a good analogy about Braves baseball. I can’t decide if I should be embarrassed for understanding it.

    Thank you, thank you. My work here is done.

  23. I think defense only matters at the extremes. Admittedly, Simmons is definitely at the extreme, so the fact that he’s an all time great defender does matter.

    But he plays in an offensive era, and doesn’t really seem to have any outstanding intangibles or leadership abilities, etc.

    Overall, he’s just a guy. Newcomb, has the opportunity to be more than just a guy. IMO.

  24. To your credit, Chief, you’ve been extremely consistent. I couldn’t disagree more, of course, but agree to disagree. In general, I’d agree that a lefthanded ace starter is even more valuable than a sterling defensive shortstop.

    In specific, I think that the odds are really low that Sean Newcomb ever becomes as good a pitcher as Simmons is a fielder. If he could become Jon Lester or C.C. Sabathia or name your favorite lefty ace, then, sure, he’d be one of the most valuable players in all of baseball.

    But, I think ‘Rissa did the best job any of us could have done in compiling the case for Simba: https://bravesjournal.us/category/which-andrelton-simmons-catch-was-better/

  25. I agree with coop, and we both saw Ozzie Smith. Hell, we both saw Mark Belanger and Luis Aparicio. I did not see Rabbit Maranville, but I think coop did.

  26. @27

    See, I’m not super convinced that Coppy thought the combination of Aybar and Newcomb was gonna be better than Simmons. I think it’s very possible that the basic objective of the trade was to get rid of Simmons in the name of the rebuild. We needed a shortstop back, so that was Aybar, and we needed to get as much general value back as possible, and that was Newcomb. But I’m not super convinced that he made the trade because he thought Newcomb was gonna turn into C.C. Sabathia. Put it this way: Had the Angels decided they couldn’t part with Aybar and Newcomb, I think Coppy would’ve found a way to trade Simmons to somebody at some point that offseason.

    Hence why I think the deal stunk even though I’m not as in love with Simba as most other people around here were.

  27. Tfloyd and coop, I’m old enough to remember Belanger too and agree Andrelton is the best I’ve ever seen including Ozzie. I’ll be 60 soon and consider myself lucky that I’ve seen Simmons and Andruw, certainly the two best defenders of my fandom and I think of all time. I don’t think that’s just my Braves fandom talking. At least we had Druw more than a decade. Like many I consider it a travesty that we traded Simmons so soon and I agree with Alex, Nick, Karl and others that it just didn’t make baseball sense and was demoralizing as a fan. Kimbrel was just as dominant and fun to watch but as a closer who’s only going to give you 60 or so innings a year he was worth more to a contender than to us. But Simmons…wow. I still have a hard time with letting a guy go that is maybe the best ever at the most important defensive position and had 5 more yrs of control thru his prime. And on top of the field value he sold tickets, one of the extremely rare players who fans would buy a ticket hoping to see a defensive highlight.

  28. I have seen Simmons conduct mound meetings and direct infield positioning with the Angels — I have little doubt that he’s the leader of that unit.

  29. One more codger piling on the Simba Love Tour. It was a privilege to see it.

    But let me ask a question: the Angels have Trout and Simmons, and they can’t sniff the playoffs. I followed a lot of Braves teams with great players and lousy records. Winning is a lot more fun. OK… that’s not a question.

  30. I’ll say this for Liberty Media: they have been a better owner than Arte Moreno has been for Anaheim.

  31. EDIT: I misinterpreted what the exercise was so I’m deleting my comment. I thought it was more based on who you would protect during an expansion draft.

  32. I’m an idiot. I had it right the first time, and then I read the link again, and read the second part and doubted myself.

    Who I would protect, in order:

    1) Acuna
    2) Soroka
    3) Albies
    4) Pache
    5) Fried
    6) Riley
    7) Anderson
    8) Freeman
    9) Wright
    10) Waters
    11) Newcomb
    12) Folty
    13) Dansby
    14) Contreras
    15) Muller

  33. Are you OK with losing Camargo, Touki and Wilson?
    I would also put Albies 2nd on the list — that contract makes him the most valuable trade chit in baseball.
    I think I would remove Folty and Contreras and keep Wilson and Camargo. At his salary, Folty wouldn’t get taken by an expansion team and Contreras has yet to hit AAA.

  34. Oh, and since 10 and 5 guys on guaranteed contract must be on the list, helllllo Nickie Boy!

  35. Ugh, forgot Camargo. I could probably just trade out Folty for Camargo.

    I would keep Dansby, Contreras, and Muller over Wilson and Touki. I’m not as excited about Wilson as some. I think this thread has exposed my affinity for big, tall lefties. A lot rarer than gutsy righties and righties that can’t throw strikes.

  36. Smith also has a guaranteed multi-year so he has to be on the list as well. So… Cakes and Smith bump out Muller and Waters (ouch, this exercise is hard!)

  37. @49, I think the rules say they only have to be on the protected list if they are 10/5 or have a no-trade clause.

  38. I remember the Simmons trade being pretty universally hated among Braves fans even at the time it was made.

    Newcomb has been a useful piece, but damn it would have been nice to have Simmons.

  39. Since the expansion draft would take place in the offseason, the Braves would presumably not resign Markakis until after the draft takes place.

  40. The only trades that were worse for the Braves in my lifetime were Wainwright to St. Louis and then the Olivera to the Braves fiasco. Can anyone name a good deal the Braves ever made with the Angels or Dodgers?

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