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Chris Antonetti on trade market evolution: “Teams are starting to value players similarly.”

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The baseball transaction landscape has certainly changed, even in just this past decade. The best players used to be available in free agency, but now that teams are signing their young, talented players to long-term contract extensions, these players typically don’t reach free agency until around age 30 — a bit past their prime. We’re also not seeing as many trades as we used to years ago.

Chris Antonetti, Indians president of baseball operations, has some thoughts on how the trade market has evolved. Via MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian:

There has been an evolution in trades over the course of the last 10 years or so, where there’s a lot more information on players across organizations. And I think what we’ve seen is teams are starting to value players similarly. And, when that happens, it can make it a little more difficult to find matches on trades, when one of the things that leads trades to happen is you have different evaluations of a player. One team may value a player a certain way and another team values him differently, and there’s an opportunity to overlap. Those types of trades are becoming a little bit less common than they would in the past. Now trades happen when there are just areas of surplus or areas where one team may have a surplus in a place and another team may have a deficit. You can match up there. Or, you can match up where maybe teams aren’t valuing present-year wins as they are future-year wins — teams that might be rebuilding — and you can match up on trading with teams that have different priorities on different time horizons.

That, of course, makes perfect sense. Analytics have become ubiquitous in front offices across baseball and the only variation really comes from the techniques used to gather the data and the weight given to certain types of data. Before a team invested in analytics, another stats-savvy team might have been able to work a trade — for instance — for a pitcher coming off a bad season but with an abnormally high batting average on balls in play. But that pitcher’s team now knows to expect mean regression, so that team will no longer give up the player for less than market value. That’s at least one type of trade that has become increasingly rarer in recent years.

Once a counterculture, Sabermetrics has become the establishment. With most teams approaching the game similarly, these front office types must find their edges — or, to use Moneyball lingo, market inefficiencies — in new ways.

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.”