Pedro still looking for work, Phillies may be interested

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Last month general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. announced that the Phillies had no interest in signing Pedro Martinez, but Todd Zolecki of MLB.com and Andy Martino of the Philadelphia Inquirer both report that the team will indeed watch the future Hall of Famer work out in the Dominican Republic this week.

Martino speculates that Amaro has changed his stance on Martinez after
failing to find a palatable trade solution for a veteran starter, while
Zolecki suggests that the Phillies are simply “covering their bases in
case Martinez has enough life left in his arm to help.”

Martinez has remained steadfast in his demand for a prorated $5
million contract, which while enough to scare teams off in April or May
would add up to a relatively modest $2.5 million investment at this
point in the season. In other words, showing any kind of decent stuff
in this week’s workout could lead to Martinez finally being signed.

However, his previous workout sessions apparently have not been
impressive, with various sources reporting that his fastball topped out
in the mid-80s. Martinez went 5-6 with a 5.61 ERA in 20 starts last
season while averaging 87.7 miles per hour with his fastball, but his
Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP) was 4.61 and shows that
he wasn’t as bad as the ugly ERA.

If healthy he’s certainly still capable of being a solid fourth or
fifth starter for a contending team, but the decision for the Phillies
revolves around whether dropping a few million bucks on a question mark
makes more sense than relying on young starters or giving up some
non-monetary assets in a trade for a less risky veteran.

Angels’ Andrelton Simmons opts out of final 5 games

Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shortstop Andrelton Simmons has opted out of the remainder of the Los Angeles Angels’ season.

The Angels announced the four-time Gold Glove-winning shortstop’s decision Tuesday before they faced the San Diego Padres.

Los Angeles (24-31) is still technically in the playoff race with five games left in the regular season, and Simmons clearly caught the Angels by surprise, although the club said it respected his decision.

The 31-year-old Simmons, who can be a free agent this winter, is finishing his fifth year with the Angels. After spraining his ankle in late July and missing 22 games, Simmons is currently batting .297 with 10 RBIs while playing his usual stellar defense, albeit with four errors in 30 games.

“At this time, I feel this is the best decision for me and my family,” Simmons said in a statement. “We don’t know what the future holds, but we would like to sincerely thank the Angels organization and Angels fans for welcoming and making us feel at home.”

Manager Joe Maddon acknowledged he was caught by surprise when general manager Billy Eppler told him about Simmons’ decision Monday night after Simmons went 1 for 4 with an RBI single in the Angels’ home finale. Maddon texted Simmons, but hadn’t heard back by Tuesday afternoon.

“I’ve really enjoyed this guy a lot,” Maddon said. “I’m a big fan. This guy is a good baseball player, and I’ve enjoyed the conversations, too. It’s just unfortunate. He’s really a big part of what we’re doing right now.”

Simmons is a favorite of Angels fans for his defensive wizardry, and owner Arte Moreno has described Simmons as perhaps his favorite player to watch on the roster. Simmons has batted .281 with 36 homers and 281 RBIs during his five seasons with Los Angeles, and he won the Gold Glove in 2017 and 2018.

“He’s a thinking kind of a player, and I’ve enjoyed him a lot,” Maddon said.

Simmons will be a free agent this winter, and the Angels have an obvious replacement for him in David Fletcher, who has a .374 on-base percentage while regularly hitting leadoff for the Angels during his breakout major league season. Fletcher has been playing second base since Simmons’ return from injury.

But the Angels haven’t publicly closed the door on Simmons’ return, and he could be given a qualifying offer. Maddon has repeatedly said he would like Simmons to return in 2021 if possible.

The Angels haven’t had a winning season during Simmons’ five years in Anaheim, although Simmons said last week he wasn’t discouraged by the lack of team success. Simmons played his first four major league seasons in Atlanta, and he hasn’t appeared in the postseason since 2013.

Simmons also said he hadn’t been involved in any recent contract talks with the Angels, but he had enjoyed playing for the club. When asked if he wanted to return to the Halos, Simmons said he would have to “plead the fifth.”