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Some of baseball's best writers weigh in on the Andrelton Simmons trade

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Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

It took some time for our shock to subside, the dust to settle and for the pieces to be confirmed, but once all of that fell into place yesterday, the huge trade of Erick Aybar and the Angels' top prospects in exchange for Braves SS Andrelton Simmons finally began to make plenty sense to us here at Halos Heaven. Yes, many of us would miss Erick Aybar, and the promise of young hurlers Sean Newcomb and Chris Ellis would have to be excised from our brains for good, but most feel like the Angels got something extremely special in return for the Braves' hefty haul.

But how did the rest of the baseball intelligentsia react? Let's take a look at what some of the sport's best writers had to say about Billy Eppler's first shot fired from his Angels GM perch.

Keith Law, ESPN(this one is on ESPN Insider, but I got you covered):

I'm a little surprised by the Andrelton Simmons deal. In a market that values defense so highly, with Simmons the best in the game at the most important position, Simmons seemed like a player that the Atlanta Braves would keep to build around unless they got an overwhelming offer for him. Instead, the Los Angeles Angels sent back a return that seems fair, rather than lopsided in Atlanta's favor, so it's a good baseball deal but not the kind of home run Simmons' many fans in Georgia were hoping to see.

The Angels' side is costly, but fair: They got the best defensive shortstop in the game -- innumerate postseason awards be damned -- but gave up their top two prospects for him, which hampers their ability to make any other significant moves this winter without spending a lot of cash. Shortstop is locked up in Anaheim for the foreseeable future, as Simmons' glove alone makes him an above-average regular; the advanced fielding metric UZR (found at Fangraphs) has had him saving 57 runs over an average shortstop over the past three seasons. The next highest total at short, by J.J. Hardy, was 27, meaning Simmons' defense (by that metric) was worth about a win a year over the second-best shortstop in the majors.

At the plate, he doesn't bring much to the table, making a lot of contact but sacrificing on-base ability and, outside of a brief stretch in 2013, not hitting for much power either. There have been other players who, like Simmons, were glove-first shortstops who didn't hit but rarely struck out and later developed into good hitters for average, and if Simmons is done trying to pull the ball into the seats, I think he has a chance to develop like that in the next year or two. If he doesn't, he's still a three-win player who'll make $53 million over the next five years, underpaid in every year but possibly the last one at $15 million, and he makes the Angels a couple of wins better for 2016 (especially with several ground-ball pitchers in their rotation). That's all good, because the future is now for the Angels, whose farm system looks like General Sherman just marched through it. Twice.

Whoa...okay, so sounds like Law thinks it was a good deal for both teams, but still probably better for the Halos. Sounds good to me. Although, that last line is kind of foreboding.

Ben Badler, Baseball America:

Ben Badler thinks it's badass. Dig on that.

Grant Brisbee, SBNBaseball/McCovey Chronicles:

Through age 25, defensive wins above replacement

Ozzie Smith, 473 games played, 7.6 dWAR

Andrelton Simmons, 499 games played, 15.2 dWAR

Exactly twice as valuable defensively as the greatest defensive shortstop in history through his first 25 years on Earth. That doesn't mean he's going to be an inner-circle Hall of Famer like Ozzie. Doesn't mean he's just going to get better and better. It just means that he's rare. Very rare.

It's not like he helped the Braves win the NL East this year. He's not magic or anything, so don't get carried away. He's just the best defender of his generation at the most important defensive position in baseball. No big deal. If there's a quibble with what the Angels did, it's that Simmons isn't going to help the Angels score more. At least, not yet. He has similar offensive stats to Brandon Crawford at a similar age, and he just won a Silver Slugger, so don't just write Simmons off as an all-glove guy. There's projection there. Still, in 2016, he's not going to be the engine that propels the Angels toward 800 runs.

He's a true bargain through 2020. It's a stretch to suggest Simmons is a prospect himself, considering he's due over $50 million, but he's a long-term solution at below-market rates. You trade prospects for that every time. Every time.

Quite the strong, encouraging words from Grant there. Gimme more.

Jeff Sullivan, Fangraphs/Fox Sports:

For however much complaining there is that we still aren't great at measuring defensive performance, Simmons isn't a shortstop to be debated. This is an open and closed case -- he's great. He's great by observation. He's great by reputation. He's great by the way he's discussed within the industry.

And the numbers are there. Since Simmons broke into the league, he's been the game's best defensive shortstop according to Defensive Runs Saved. He's been the game's best defensive shortstop according to Ultimate Zone Rating. He's been the game's best defensive shortstop according to Inside Edge, another data source. And he's been the game's best defensive shortstop according to the Fan Scouting Report, a project that asks baseball fans every year to make their own defensive evaluations. This intro has probably gone on too long, because it's not like you need to be convinced. No one needs to be convinced about Andrelton Simmons.

Click on the link, and see Sullivan go into further detail on where he thinks Simmons is headed, especially in regards to his bat. Another article, another glowing appraisal of Andrelton Simmons.

Dave Cameron, Fangraphs:

So, yes, history suggests that Andrelton Simmons is going to get worse defensively in Anaheim, and we shouldn’t expect him to continue putting up +20 UZRs for much longer. But that history also suggests that the same trends that take some value from his glove should add some back to his bat, and that overall, Simmons should be expected to remain roughly as valuable as he has been to this point in his career. And that’s pretty darn valuable.

For the Angels, this looks like a pretty great deal, picking up one of the best shortstops in baseball for a couple of high variance pitching prospects, plus one year of Erick Aybar. For the Braves, well, I hope they’re right about Sean Newcomb.

Cameron takes a bit of a different tact, and attempts to see how guys comparable to Simmons fared with their defense as they aged. The results are still quite strongly in the Angels favor...his glove may diminsh over the years, but his hitting should improve. Cameron says we got a good one, and that's music to my ears.

This list could go on for much longer, as there was really no shortage of smart baseball guys saying the Angels and Billy Eppler pulled off a strong, gutsy move and got themselves a generational talent in return.