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Yankees lose out on Dallas Keuchel because of…Domingo Germán?

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Last week the Atlanta Braves signed free agent pitcher Dallas Keuchel. The Yankees, also in need of starting pitching, were reportedly in the hunt for him as well. When Keuchel signed with Atlanta for $13 million for the remainder of the season the Yankees took some heat from their fans for not being willing to spend a moderate amount to fix a thin and injury-hampered rotation.

Today a columnist — Randy Miller of NJ.com — wrote a column blaming the Yankees’ failure to sign Keuchel on starter Domingo Germán. The upshot: if Germán, who just went on the injured list due to a strained hip, had told the Yankees earlier that his hip hurt, they would’ve made a greater effort to sign Keuchel. Here’s Miller, after chronicling the history of Germán’s hip:

And because German hid this injury, the Yankees’ allowed their Plan A for a rotation upgrade to go elsewhere when free agent left-hander Dallas Keuchel passed on their one-year, $11-million best offer to take one-year and $13 million from the Atlanta Braves last Thursday. If the Yanks had known about German’s hip issue, there’s no doubt that management would have looked at Keuchel as more of a necessity than a luxury and thus probably offered enough money to get him.

He goes on to nail the alleged direct connection here even harder, saying “[t]he Yankees could have had Keuchel – probably would have had Keuchel – if German hadn’t kept quiet about his sore hip for almost two weeks.”

That’s a major stretch. A stretch that ignores the fact that adding Keuchel would’ve addressed an already-pressing need. If the Yankees were getting outbid by the Braves for a measly $2 million despite that need, it’s pretty doubtful that Germán’s hip — which was already leading to some poor outings, thus suggesting he was not going to continue to carry the staff like he had in the first two months of the season — would’ve made the difference. Saying it’s his fault that the Yankees were unwilling to match Atlanta’s offer is rather ridiculous, actually.

But making this argument sure does serve the purposes of the Yankees’ front office. They would, I’m sure, prefer that fans  ignore the fact that the Yankees have bypassed a number of chances to improve the club via free agency in the last several months. It’s better for them if angry fans are blaming Domingo Germán than Brian Cashman.

 

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.”