The Royals non-tendered Josh Anderson the night of December 12th. Apparently 11 days was too long to go without a light hitting OF with that surname. Thus, after 10 days, the Royals have signed Anderson, Brian N. to a one-year $700,000 contract. Dayton Moore has confused me once again.
Who is Brian N. Anderson?
Brian Nikola Anderson was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 1st round of the 2003 draft. He was taken 15th overall* out of the University of Arizona.
*If you are curious, the Royals took OF-Chris Lubanksi 5th overall in the 2003 draft
Chicago sent him to play for the Great Falls White Sox in the Pioneer League after he signed. Anderson impressed hitting 0.388/.492/.592 in 49 AB. It was enough of an impression that he skipped low-A to open the 2004 season in high-A as a member of the Winston-Salem Warthogs. In 254 AB, from April through June, he hit 0.319/.394/.531. By the time July rolled around, Anderson found himself in Double-A playing for the Birmingham Barons. Despite climbing the organizational ladder quickly he again impressed, hitting 0.270/.346/.416 in 185 AB. As the 2005 season opened, Anderson had just turned 23 and found himself in Triple-A playing for the Charlotte Knights. He went on to hit 0.295/.360/.469 in 448 AB before being called up to the show.
Anderson made his major league debut on August 16th, 2005 and went 2-7 in a 16 inning 4-9 loss to the Minnesota Twins. He would collect another 3 hits on 8/26 and 1 more on 9/30. He finished with a 0.176/.176/.382 slash line in 34 AB which resulted in an OPS+ of 41. Despite the lackluster start to his ML career, Brian was the starting CF for the White Sox when the 2006 season began. He stayed the major leagues the entire year, but hit only 0.225/.293/.359 with 8 HR, 4 SB, 30 BB, and 90 SO in 356 AB. His OPS+ “improved” to 65 and he played solid defense in CF with a UZR/150 of 7.3.
He played in the 2007 season opener for the White Sox although it was in the role of a pinch hitter. Over his 1st 13 games of the year, he hit 0.118/.211/.176 in only 17 AB. By the end of April, Chicago had seen enough and demoted him to Triple-A. He finished out the season with Charlotte and hit 0.255/.318/.435 in 200 AB. Anderson spent the entire 2008 season back up with the White Sox, but hit just 0.232/.272/.436. He appeared in 109 games, but had only 193 PA. His chance to be the starting CF for Chicago was now long gone.
Brian Anderson was traded to the Boston Red Sox on July 28th, 2009. The White Sox got Mark Kotsay back in return. He spent the 2009 season playing in the majors and AAA for both organizations. Anderson hit 0.228/.291/.431 in 123 Triple-A at bats and 0.243/.328/.347 in 202 ML at bats. Throughout his career he has played average defense with a UZR/150 of 1.0 in the OF. As a CF specifically his career UZR/150 is just 0.2.
With his track record he seemed destined to land a minor league contract this offseason with hopes of landing a job as a 4th or 5th OF on a major league roster. Then Dayton Moore and the Kansas City Royals came along.
Instead of offering him a minor league deal with a chance to earn the starting CF job in Surprise. When a minor league contract and the chance to again become an every day CF in the big leagues should have been enough, Moore added him to the 40-man roster and gave him $700,000.
Anderson would have faced far more competition in CF on any other ML team so Kansas City was his best chance, and he had to be aware of that. If he wasn’t, surely his representatives were. If he had earned the job during spring training the Royals could have added him to the 40-man roster at that point and paid him the ML minimum. Instead the team committed another $200,000 (at least) and tied up a spot on their 40-man today. The money isn’t really relevant, but the spot on the 40-man roster is.
Brian Anderson needed the Royals more than the Royals needed Brian Anderson. If another team was interested in the “new” BA, the Royals should have walked. There was no need to up their offer for a player who has amassed a WAR of -0.3 in parts of 5 ML seasons. Yes, that is a negative number. Yes, he is a below replacement level. Perhaps more importantly, the team already has Mitch Maier in the mix who had a positive 0.3 WAR and 1.7 UZR/150 in CF during the 2009 season. Maier is slightly better than Anderson and is 3 months younger.
Speaking of players who figure to be just as good as BA, what about Josh Anderson?
Let’s line up their career numbers:
Josh Anderson: 0.272/.313/.352 in 486 AB, 75 OPS+, 0.6 WAR, -11.2 UZR/150 in CF
Brian Anderson: 0.227/.290/.370 in 799 AB, 69 OPS+, -0.3 WAR, 0.2 UZR/150 in CF
A little competition for the CF job is a good thing and there is no doubt the Royals needed to bring in that competition from outside the organization. Josh, like Brian, deserves nothing more than a minor league contract and a spring training invite. While Brian does bring average defense with him, Josh possesses the only plus tool between them in the form of his speed.
Josh Anderson would have been a better choice heading into the 2009 season if for no other reason that he has already learned the ins and outs of the Royals organization. The guy they cut 10 days ago was better than the guy they just signed. Yes, Anderson was arbitration eligible, but the Royals certainly could have non-tendered him and then resigned him to a minor league deal right away.
I’m not saying the team should have resigned Josh Anderson instead of Brian Anderson. I am saying that there was a better option on the roster 10 days ago. Because we know about Josh we could reasonably conclude that there are better options out on the market willing to sign a minor league deal without even going through the names of available players. We’re talking about players slightly above or slightly below replacement level after all.
The Jason Kendall signing did nothing to address the gaping hole at catcher. Now we have the Brian Anderson signing with does absolutely nothing to address the team’s need in CF. To make matters worse, neither player has any upside or unrealized potential at this point in their careers.