The Chicago Cubs have agreed to sign free agent shortstop Andrelton Simmons to a one-year, $4 million deal, reports Jon Heyman of MLB Network. Simmons has the ability to make more money through incentives as well, per the report.
Simmons, 32, has long been one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball -- in fact, he rates out as one of the better defensive shortstops in history -- and will likely continue to be excellent in that aspect of the game.
His offense last season was another story. Simmons hit .223/.283/.274 (57 OPS+) with 12 doubles, three homers, 31 RBI and 37 runs in 131 games for the Twins. Despite that atrocious offensive line, he still put up 1.5 WAR (baseball-reference.com version) thanks to his stellar defense at a premium position.
That appears to be the Cubs' focus here. A pitching staff right now fronted by Kyle Hendricks, Marcus Stroman and Wade Miley looks to be low-strikeout and ground ball-heavy. In fact, among full-time starters last season, Stroman was eighth, Miley 10th and Hendricks 20th in groundball rate.
Without outside additions to the roster, the Cubs' best bet at shortstop would've been Nico Hoerner and there are still plenty of questions about him in that spot as an everyday starter. A defender of Simmons' caliber makes the infield as a whole better by virtue of his incredible range.
Adding Simmons to the mix there gives the Cubs someone who, whenever he's on the field, will make their ground ball pitchers pretty happy.
As for the bat, it's likely a negative, but Simmons did hit .297 in his 30 games in 2020 and .292 with only 44 strikeouts in a full 2018 season.