Neither side specified a reason in written statements Tuesday, but sources told ESPN that a major motivation stemmed from concerns about COVID-19 and how it might impact more vulnerable members of his family, particularly with American League teams that are still not mathematically eliminated required to quarantine for potential postseason games beginning Tuesday.
The Angels, who remain mathematically in the race for the second wild card and second place in the AL West following Tuesday night’s 4-2 win over the San Diego Padres, are included in that, even though their chances of making the playoffs are slim.
In a statement released through his agency, ISE, Simmons said: “I have made the decision to opt out of the remainder of this season. Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association developed an environment and system that empowered players and provided us the opportunity to decide on whether to play or opt out of the season. At this moment, I feel this is the best decision for me and for my family. 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.”
Simmons, a pending free agent, is a four-time Gold Glove Award winner and a career .269/.317/.379 hitter through nine seasons in the major leagues. The 31-year-old accounted for the first major move by Billy Eppler as Angels general manager, with Eppler acquiring Simmons from the Atlanta Braves in a high-profile trade involving top pitching prospect Sean Newcomb in November 2015.
Simmons and Eppler had a conversation about his decision on Monday, at which point Eppler called Joe Maddon while the manager was driving home.
“He wanted to make sure I was holding on to the wheel properly, and he told me the news,” said Maddon, adding that he didn’t know more details about Simmons’ reasons for opting out. Maddon sent Simmons a text on the team’s bus ride to San Diego on Tuesday but hadn’t heard back by the time he spoke with reporters later that afternoon.
“Listen, I’ve really enjoyed this guy a lot,” Maddon said. “This guy’s a good baseball player, as we all know, and I really love the conversations, too.”
Simmons missed some time because of an ankle sprain earlier this season and batted .297/.346/.356 with no home runs in 127 plate appearances. He recently expressed a desire to re-sign with the Angels in the offseason but was noncommittal about the chances of that occurring, saying: “I can’t pay myself to play here, so it’s not my decision.”
“This year has presented unique challenges for many reasons, and the Angels respect Andrelton’s decision [to opt out],” the team wrote in Tuesday’s statement.