Bryan LaHair has gone from All-Star to out of Cubs’ plans

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One side effect of Anthony Rizzo’s emergence for the Cubs is that Bryan LaHair has fallen completely out of the team’s plans just months after being named an All-Star.

LaHair was a great story in the first half, finally getting his big chance at age 29 after a decade in the minors and hitting .286 with 14 homers and an .883 OPS to represent the Cubs in the All-Star game.

However, he’d already begun slumping by then and after initially trying LaHair in the outfield once Rizzo arrived the Cubs have basically given him a permanent spot on the bench. LaHair has a grand total of 101 plate appearances in the second half and has hit just .187. Dating back even further, since hitting .384 with a 1.243 OPS through May 10 he’s hit just .212 with a .612 OPS in 88 games.

When asked yesterday about LaHair’s status, manager Dale Sveum said:

I think for his sake he needs to go play winter ball again and get those at-bats he missed out on and be ready for spring training just like he was this year. … Yeah, that [securing a big role with the Cubs will be difficult] goes unsaid really. Rizzo is healthy and playing time will be tough to find.

Obviously the Cubs will try to get something for LaHair this offseason, but much like we saw with Evan Meek and the Pirates yesterday the “former All-Star” label isn’t exactly guaranteed to create trade interest when the selection was iffy in the first place.

Angels’ Andrelton Simmons opts out of final 5 games

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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.”