As I mentioned on Wednesday, starting pitching targets linked to the Royals are beginning to be taken off the board, with Tim Hudson and Josh Johnson signing with the Giants and Padres, respectively. It seemed as though Phil Hughes would be the next call Dayton Moore made, unless another name popped up in discussions.
Well, it appears another name has popped up in discussions.
Anderson has a career ERA of 3.81, FIP of 3.56, and xFIP of 3.52. He’s struck out 7.13 batters per 9 innings, and walked just 2.4 batters per 9. He gets groundballs at an excellent rate, with a GB% of 54.9. He’s also locked up for 2014 for $8 million and has a $12 million team option for 2015. Seems like trying to swing a trade for a starter with those numbers should be a no brainer, right?
Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple.
While Anderson has been a very good pitcher, he has had consistent health problems in every season since his 2009 rookie campaign, in which he threw 175.1 innings. After that year, Anderson posted the following innings totals: 112.1, 83.1, 35, & 44.2. He had a forearm strain in 2010, elbow issues requiring Tommy John surgery in 2011, an oblique strain in 2012 after recovering from TJ surgery, and ankle and foot injuries in 2013. Not exactly the picture of perfect health.
If Anderson could be signed to a low-cost free agent contract, I think many fans would have no issue with it. Even if he cost $8 million on the open market, that amount of money is far from prohibitive, and Anderson’s upside is that of a 2nd starter. However, because he’s a member of another team, a trade for Anderson is a bit more complicated.
Oakland obviously doesn’t want to give Anderson away for free. The salary relief could help a small market team like the A’s, but it’s not that important in the grand scheme of things. The organization must think Anderson has a chance of performing at a high level, or they probably wouldn’t have exercised his $8 million option for next season. Because of that, I would expect the A’s to want a couple of prospects for their oft-injured lefty. On the other side of the equation, I don’t believe the Royals would be concerned with the money owed to Anderson, but they likely wouldn’t want to part with any incredibly valuable assets in exchange for a player who may not make more than a handful of starts with the team. As I said, it’s kind of a tricky scenario.
On its face, I would certainly be in favor of acquiring Anderson, but I’m afraid of what prospects would be given up in the deal. That fear is magnified when I imagine Dayton Moore trading with Billy Beane. (Insert your favorite mismatch analogy here)
It is possible the A’s would be willing to take a package of lesser prospects, in a similar vein to what the Angels did in the Ervin Santana trade last year. While Anderson’s issues are health-related, Santana’s issues surrounded his effectiveness. It would likely take more than a minor league reliever, but I do think the Royals could trade for Anderson without doing too much damage to the farm system. Of course, it would probably be best to pursue other pitching targets in addition to Anderson to make sure they have enough depth in case of injury. But, if he is able to somehow stay healthy for a majority of the season – which is admittedly a very large “if” – Anderson could play a huge role in giving the Royals’ rotation the boost it needs.