Indians interested in Oakland starting pitcher Brett Anderson

Gregory Shamus

Is the Oakland southpaw the answer to the Tribe's need for another starter pitcher?


The Athletics are looking to trade starting pitcher Brett Anderson during the upcoming Winter Meetings (December 8-11), and the Indians are one of the teams interested in him.

Anderson's career strikeout (7.1 K/9), walk (2.4 B/9), and home run (0.8 HR/9) are all a bit better than the American League average for recent years, and he's only 25 years old, meaning he could still be getting better. Oh, and he's left-handed.

Anderson is signed for $8 million in 2014, with a team option for $12 million in 2015 (or a $1.5M buyout). The contracts handed out in recent weeks to free agent starting pitchers make 2 years, $20 million for a young, above-average starting pitcher look like a bargain. You've almost got to wonder why Oakland is willing to part with him...

Unless, that is, you're familiar with Anderson's medical history:

Anderson missed more than half of 2010 with elbow soreness, which also troubled him in 2011, leading to him having Tommy John surgery that July, which caused him to miss the rest of that season and most of 2012 while recovering. A month after he returned, his season ended prematurely due to a strained abdomen. The A's named him their Opening Day 2013 starter, but in his 6th game of the season, he badly sprained his ankle, missing the next four months. Oakland moved him to the bullpen upon his return, and he managed to avoid another DL stint (but he did miss four days with back stiffness).

Yikes.

Anderson has thrown only 163 innings over the last three seasons, and his run prevention has actually been below average (an ERA+ of 92) over that time. Suddenly it's not so difficult to understand why Oakland is willing to part with him.

Anderson was a highly rated prospect, and has shown sporadic flashes of greatness during his career. If he were a free agent, I'd be interested in the Indians signing him to a 1-year deal, something with little in guaranteed money but some incentives for x-number of innings, and then hoping he turns things back around, the way Scott Kazmir did this season (and now Kazmir is the pitcher Oakland has signed to take Anderson's spot in their rotation), but I wouldn't want the Tribe to sign him for 2 years, $20 million (or 1 year, $9.5 million). That signing would strike me as an awful decision.

I can only assume the Athletics will be offer to pay a good share of Anderson's remaining contract, no other possibility makes a lick of sense to me. The return would have to be the equivalent of nothing, a minor prospect with little chance of ever wearing an Indians uniform. Even with such a minimal player involved, the A's would have to cover half of Anderson's 2014 contract, otherwise I'm not going for it.

If Oakland is game for something like that, just hoping to save $3-4 million for next season, then Chris Antonetti and Billy Beane can get together at the hotel bar in Orlando for a couple drinks and try to work something out. If Oakland expects someone notable back, or isn't up for paying any of Anderson's 2014 salary, Antonetti should lose Beane's number for the next few days.

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