Brett Anderson Rumors

Heyman’s Latest: Castro, Shapiro, Davis, Anderson, Brewers, Phils

Within his latest Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that displaced Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro has joined Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez as struggling former stars that have cleared waivers. (The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo first reported that Ramirez and Sandoval cleared waivers.) The Cubs had a few trade discussions pertaining to Castro prior to the July 31 non-waiver deadline, per Heyman, and they’ll likely revisit trade talks this winter. As for Sandoval, Heyman hears that there are not active discussions at the moment, although one can easily imagine new president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski exploring ways to shed that sizable commitment this offseason.

Some more highlights from Heyman’s latest column…

  • Indians president Mark Shapiro has been given permission to meet with the Blue Jays about their opening, per the report. The veteran Cleveland executive is “believed” to sit atop Toronto’s wish list, and Heyman says there’s an increasing expectation that he’ll end up moving over to the Jays.
  • Chris Davis is in line for a significant payday this offseason, but the Orioles aren’t likely to be the ones writing the check. Heyman hears that two years ago, following Davis’ brilliant 53-homer campaign, agent Scott Boras was eyeing Joey Votto’s 10-year, $225MM contract as a comp. Granted, Davis’ reduced production since that time has almost certainly lowered the asking price, but I personally agree with the assessment of MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes in his latest Free Agent Power Rankings: Davis is in line for a nine-figure contract, which seems beyond Baltimore’s traditional comfort levels.
  • Though some were surprised to see Brett Anderson land a $10MM guarantee from the Dodgers due to his injury history, Heyman hears that the Dodgers may be considering an even more surprising move: extending a qualifying offer to the injury-prone hurler. Anderson, in my eyes, would be a risky candidate for such an offer, but there’s reason enough that the Dodgers could make that call. For one, the team can afford a $16MM investment in an injury-prone pitcher, and Anderson’s worth close to that kind of cash when healthy. Secondly, Anderson’s coming off one of the lone healthy seasons of his career and may see this as his best chance to cash in on a multi-year deal. He could see the only downside as another one-year deal worth $10MM+, meaning he’d be risking around $6MM for a chance at quite a bit more.
  • The Brewers are expected to take “well into next month” in their search for a new general manager and are interested in pursuing non-traditional candidates. We’ve heard several possibilities batted around, and Heyman says he’s heard at least some chatter about Athletics assistant GM Dan Kantrovitz and Red Sox special assistant Jerry Dipoto.
  • While the Phillies could have their own front office changes to make, Heyman says it’s still possible that Ruben Amaro Jr. could not only stay in the organization in some capacity, but keep the GM chair.
  • In a separate piece, Heyman also takes an interesting look at the thirty best deals made over the last year. There’s certainly a good case to be made for his top choice: the Blue Jays’ acquisition of Josh Donaldson.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Brett Anderson

Dodgers starter Brett Anderson appears set to enter the 2015-16 offseason as one of the winter’s most unusual free agents. Injuries have limited him to 622 2/3 career big-league innings. 2015 has been his first full season in the big leagues since his rookie year in 2009. He is, in the grand scheme of things, still unproven. And yet he’ll still be highly sought after.

USATSI_8550377_154513410_lowresFirst, the injury record: Since 2011, Anderson has missed significant time with elbow issues resulting in Tommy John surgery; an oblique strain; a stress fracture in his foot; a broken finger; and a herniated disc in his lower back. Many of those injuries haven’t been arm problems, at least, and it’s possible Anderson has partially been the victim of flukes, but that long list is still a scary one.

Despite Anderson’s history, the Dodgers signed him to a one-year, $10MM contract before the season. When signing players with track records as sketchy as Anderson’s, teams frequently secure an option of some kind as a way of guarding against future injury. Anderson’s contract contained relatively little hedging, however, other than a series of $300K-$400K bonuses for innings pitched (many of which Anderson looks likely to achieve). Also, Anderson’s $10MM guarantee looked like a lot for a pitcher who hadn’t thrown even 100 innings in a season since 2010.

Anderson has, nonetheless, proven to be a bargain for the Dodgers. Thus far, he has a 3.43 ERA, 6.1 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9. He’s also pitched 128 2/3 innings. If someone had told you before the season that the Dodgers would have an injury-riddled rotation, you probably would have assumed Anderson would be one of the culprits, but he hasn’t missed a start all season (although he left one July outing early with a minor Achilles injury).

Even better, Anderson has posted an exceptional 65.8 percent ground ball rate, a ridiculously high number that makes him very likely to have at least modest success as long as he’s healthy and has a competent infield defense behind him. Anderson’s ground ball rate is the best among qualified MLB starters, with Dallas Keuchel, Tyson Ross, Gio Gonzalez and Felix Hernandez following him in the top five. That’s strong company, even if Anderson doesn’t strike out as many batters as those other four do.

So how might Anderson fare in the market next winter? He will, of course, be on a lower tier than big-name starting pitchers like David Price, Johnny Cueto, Jordan Zimmermann, Scott Kazmir and Zack Greinke (assuming Greinke opts out of his current contract). There will also be a strong secondary starting pitching market, with Jeff Samardzija, Mike Leake, Hisashi Iwakuma, Mat Latos, Yovani Gallardo and others potentially available.

Still, if Anderson can stay healthy, he will be highly valued. Teams have lately proven willing to gamble on talented starting pitchers, even when they have obvious question marks. For example, Anderson’s current teammate Brandon McCarthy, another ground-ball-prone starter, got a four-year, $48MM deal last offseason after a brilliant 2014 stretch run with the Yankees. McCarthy had previously suffered through periods of inconsistency and injury.

Of course, McCarthy had Tommy John surgery in April, although that injury mostly appeared unrelated to his previous troubles. A more positive recent precedent, though, might be that of the Pirates’ Francisco Liriano, who earned a three-year, $39MM deal after strong 2013 and 2014 campaigns in Pittsburgh, even though he had posted ERAs above 5.00 in the two years before that and had pitched more than 163 innings in a season only once in his career. Liriano is in the midst of a third straight strong season with the Bucs.

Every case is different, of course, and Anderson might not quite have the upside McCarthy or Liriano appeared to, since he doesn’t have the strikeout rate those pitchers had. Anderson also (perhaps sensibly, given his history) hasn’t worked particularly deep into games this year, averaging just 5.8 innings per start.

Health permitting, though, Anderson’s ground ball rate gives him a reasonably high floor (no pun intended), and his age (he won’t be 28 until February) will also work in his favor. Other than Trevor Cahill, there aren’t currently any significant 2016 starting pitching free agents younger than Anderson, and only Latos and Leake even come all that close.

Anderson looks like a strong candidate for a qualifying offer, which might affect his market somewhat — the Dodgers gave Anderson a significant percentage of the value of a qualifying offer when they signed him for 2015, so extending one after what’s been a strong and healthy season looks like a no-brainer. Every player (including starting pitchers like Liriano and Ervin Santana) who rejected a qualifying offer last year got a multiyear deal, however, so it seems likely that Anderson will also be able to land one.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Quick Hits: Anderson, Vargas, Moreland

There were two potentially significant injuries tonight for teams already expected to be active in the market for starting pitching at the trade deadline. Here’s the latest at the end of a busy day of news and rumors:

  • Dodgers lefty Brett Anderson left his start with what the team described as irritation in his left Achilles tendon area, as Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports in a series of tweets (1, 2, 3, 4). Anderson said he hopes it’s not a significant injury, while manager Don Mattingly indicated it was too soon to tell whether a DL stint would be required. MRI testing tomorrow should offer additional clarity. Needless to say, any absence from Anderson would exacerbate an already difficult situation in the back of the Los Angeles rotation. GM Farhan Zaidi acknowledged as much, as Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles tweets“I don’t know that we could ratchet up our search for starting pitching any more,” said Zaidi, “but this emphasizes the need to add.”
  • Meanwhile, fresh off a rehab stint, Royals starter Jason Vargas was forced out after experiencing left medial elbow pain, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports on Twitter. He, too, will need an MRI to assess his condition. Kansas City had just demoted Opening Day starter Yordano Ventura, who could be recalled if Vargas hits the DL. But the team was already said to be looking to add to its stockpile of starters, so any uncertainty regarding Vargas could increase the team’s needs over the next ten days.
  • In what may be a thin market for bats, the Rangers have received plenty of calls on first baseman Mitch Moreland, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. Moreland has enjoyed a breakout campaign, but Texas is fading and is over-loaded with left-handed bats going forward. With another year of control remaining (after playing this year at only $2.95MM), Moreland could be a solid first base/DH addition for a team that could reap more value from him than can the Rangers. But Texas “would likely want at least a young starting pitcher” in return, says Rosenthal, and it appears more likely at this point that he’ll be retained.


NL Notes: Liz, Urena, Anderson

The Pirates hope they’ll be able to keep the just-designated Radhames Liz in the organization, manager Clint Hurdle tells Adam Berry of MLB.com (Twitter link). Nevertheless, Hurdle says that he expects another club to claim the live-armed righty. As MLBTR’s Charlie Wilmoth explained earlier today, Liz has continued to be unable to limit the free passes in his latest run in the majors. His $1MM salary, too, may cause other teams to hesitate to place a waiver claim.

  • The Marlins will bring up Jose Urena tomorrow to make his first big league start, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports on Twitter. Urena entered the year rated as Miami’s fourth-best overall prospect in the eyes of Baseball America, which praised his mid-90s fastball and quality change. The issue, per BA, is whether Urena’s breaking ball can play well enough to keep him in the rotation. The 23-year-old righty made two relief appearances in the big leagues last year, but only reached the Triple-A level to start the 2015 season. Thus far, he owns a 1.21 ERA over 37 1/3 innings (5.3 K/9 vs. 2.9 BB/9) at the highest level of the minors. Miami was in need of new blood, both as a general matter and because both Henderson Alvarez and Mat Latos were recently placed on the disabled list (joining Jarred Cosart and Jose Fernandez on the DL).
  • While it’s of historical interest only at this point, manager Fredi Gonzalez says that the Braves attempted to sign lefty Brett Anderson over the winter, as MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports (Twitter link). Anderson ultimately signed with the Dodgers, of course, and had another successful outing tonight against Atlanta. Of course, the major question with Anderson has been health, and he experienced some back stiffness tonight. It doesn’t appear to be cause for much concern at this point, but Los Angeles can ill afford any missed time from its top three starters.

NL Notes: Dodgers, Nationals, Padres

The Dodgers have the money available to sign Max Scherzer or James Shields, but after adding Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson this offseason, they don’t plan to add another top starter to complement Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-jin Ryu, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports. “I don’t think our intention ever was to sign one guy and punt on the fifth spot,” says GM Farhan Zaidi, who adds that any further starters the Dodgers add will be for depth. Zaidi also characterizes Anderson’s injuries last year as unlucky, and suggests they expect him to have a normal workload in 2015. “From a health standpoint, we feel very good about it,” Zaidi says. Here are more notes from the National League.

  • Nationals Class A+ Potomac manager Tripp Keister is pleased that his team got Chris Bostick and Abel De Los Santos in the Ross Detwiler deal with Texas, Lacy Lusk of Baseball America writes. Both players faced Potomac last year while playing for the Rangers’ affiliate in Myrtle Beach. “He has a really good arm, and he showed some flashes of a really good breaking ball,” says Keister of De Los Santos, who posted a 1.97 ERA, 10.4 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 45 2/3 innings of relief last year. “I don’t know if it’s quite as consistent as you’d like it, but he has a really big arm.”
  • The Padres have, of course, spent the past month dealing away prospects in a surprising series of trades for big-league players that have had the team and its new GM, A.J. Preller, spinning wildly in the rumor mill. Credit Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel, then, for writing several thousand words about the Padres’ minor-league system, which looks dramatically different compared to the beginning of the offseason. Notably, the Padres have recently dealt with plenty of pitcher injuries (to Max Fried, Casey Kelly, Joe Wieland and Cory Luebke), and McDaniel notes that the Padres themselves have commissioned a study to figure out why, finding no systematic problems, only a string of unfortunate outcomes.

 


Dodgers Sign Brett Anderson

The Dodgers have announced that they’ve signed lefty Brett Anderson to a one-year deal. Anderson, a client of the Legacy Agency, will make $10MM, plus up to $4MM in incentives for innings pitched. The incentives would kick in beginning at 150 innings, and Anderson would receive the full $4MM for pitching 200 innings.

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Chicago CubsThe signing represents yet another fascinating move out of the new L.A. front office. Anderson is still only 26 years old and has generally been quite effective when healthy. But he has not thrown over 100 innings since 2010, falling prey to a variety of maladies, including a UCL tear (and resulting Tommy John surgery) and a stress fracture in his foot. Last year, Anderson fell victim to a freak finger fracture on a hit-by-pitch and ended the year on the operating table for a bulging disc in his back.

With risk looming large in his profile, the Rockies paid Anderson a $1.5MM buyout rather than picking up his $12MM club option. Anderson was also pursued by the Yankees and Athletics before picking his new home, ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets.

For their money, the Dodgers will be adding a true high-ceiling, high-risk arm for the following season. That is the kind of chance a deep-pocketed club can take, of course, as Los Angeles will have options to fill the void if Anderson fails to stay healthy.

If it all works out, it would not be surprising to find that Anderson becomes the steal of the offseason. He threw to a 2.91 ERA last year in just 43 1/3 frames, posting 6.0 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 along with a typically outstanding 61% groundball rate.

Over 494 career innings, Anderson’s earned run average stands at 3.73, but his career FIP (3.51), xFIP (3.52), and SIERA (3.55) all paint him in even a better light. If one accepts the premise that Anderson would have posted better numbers had he not been constantly succumbing to and returning from injury, his true talent ceiling is probably quite high.

Anderson and Brandon McCarthy will, when their signings are official, step into a rotation fronted by Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Hyun-jin Ryu. If all five of those arms manage to stay on the rubber for the most part, that has the look of quite an imposing group. Behind them are pitchers such as Joe Wieland, Zach Lee, and Mike Bolsinger. It would not be surprising, perhaps, to see the Dodgers pursue a veteran to hold down the swingman role played last year by Paul Maholm.

ESPN’s Buster Olney originally tweeted that the two sides had agreed to a deal, and reported the basic financial outline. Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan and the Los Angeles Times’ Dylan Hernandez reported details relating to the incentives in the deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Dodgers GM Talks Brandon McCarthy, Brian Wilson

The Dodgers’ major overhaul continued today when they officially signed right-hander Brandon McCarthy to a four-year deal worth a reported $48MM.  Few doubt McCarthy’s ability and those who put a great deal of faith in his sabermetric numbers are excited about what he can do in 2015 and beyond.  However, the length of the 31-year-old’s pact gave pause to some people due to his injury history.  Not only did the Dodgers take a risk with McCarthy – they doubled down by agreeing to sign Brett Anderson to a one-year, $10MM contract.  Earlier today I asked Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi about the club’s willingness to roll the dice on those pitchers.

There’s a risk-reward calculation that all teams make.  Teams always have to consider these things with pitchers and [Dodgers head trainer] Stan Conte has been very involved in our process as far as histories and health risks go,” said Zaidi, who did not mention Anderson by name as his deal is not yet official.  “Going forward with any pitcher now, it’s part of the cost-benefit analysis.  You could have a guy who pitched 200-plus innings in the last four years that has a really bad elbow and that could go at any moment. Conversely, you could have a guy who has an injury history that you feel may be over the hump,”

With Brandon and the other pitcher we’re evaluating, we’re trying to figure out how they’ll perform in 2015 and beyond.”

Zaidi, of course, is familiar with McCarthy and Anderson thanks to their time together with the A’s. He had nothing but praise for McCarthy, saying that there was no other pitcher in Oakland that he felt more comfortable with on the mound.  Zaidi had a tremendous amount of confidence in the right-hander, he said, due to his “intelligence and attention to detail and game planning” as well as his command.

The Dodgers GM sounds equally confident in the status of McCarthy’s shoulder.  Zaidi believes that those issues will be in the past thanks to a new offseason routine that calls for additional upper body work.  The “proof is in the pudding” when it comes to McCarthy, who managed to add an extra 2 miles per hour to his fastball late in his career.

Midway through the conference call, reporters were informed that Brian Wilson was designated for assignment to make room for McCarthy on the roster.  I asked Zaidi if Wilson was struggling this winter in his effort to get back to his old form.

We’ve been keeping tabs on him in the offseason and this was not a move we made out of any medical concern.  It was more related to performance and it’s a position where we had to make a move because we had a surplus,” Zaidi explained.

It appears that recent bullpen additions like Joel Peralta, Juan Nicasio, and Chris Hatcher have leapfrogged Wilson, leaving him without much of a role to play in Los Angeles in 2015.  Their newest addition, meanwhile, will be counted on to serve as the fourth starter behind Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Hyun-jin Ryu.


AL Central Notes: Indians, Detwiler, Royals, Twins

The Indians are pursuing free agent starter Brett Anderson, ESPN’s Jim Bowden tweets. If he’s healthy, the talented but oft-injured Anderson would provide a wild card and a left arm for a talented Indians rotation that currently includes Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar, Trevor Bauer and T.J. House. Anderson has recently been connected to the Twins, Rockies, Royals and Astros. Here’s more from the AL Central.

  • The Royals discussed a potential Ross Detwiler trade with the Nationals, but talks didn’t advance, James Wagner of the Washington Post tweets. The Royals saw the lefty reliever and Missouri native as “more of a backup option,” Wagner notes. Detwiler, 28, posted a 4.00 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 63 innings with the Nats last season.
  • There has been plenty of interest in Twins middle infielders Brian Dozier and Eduardo Escobar, but the Twins do not want to trade either one, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets. Dozier and Escobar were among Minnesota’s most productive position players last season, so it’s understandable that the Twins would be reluctant to part with them, although they also got very good seasons from fellow middle infielder Danny Santana and from third baseman Trevor Plouffe.

Twins Notes: Masterson, Liriano, Neshek

The Twins are focused on pitching upgrades this offseason, and here’s the latest on the arms that Minnesota is (or isn’t) currently exploring…

  • Justin Masterson was linked to the Twins earlier this winter but 1500 ESPN’s Darren Wolfson reports (via Twitter) that “about every sign” indicates the Masterson will sign with another team.  The Twins aren’t scheduled to meet with Masterson during the Winter Meetings and the right-hander has already met with several teams over the last few days.
  • The Twins have been in touch with Francisco Liriano‘s agent throughout the offseason and they’re expected to meet Monday with Brett Anderson‘s agent, La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.  Anderson is looking for a short-term deal to rebuild his value after an injury-plagued 2014, while Liriano looks to command a significant multiyear guarantee.  Neal (via Twitter) doubts the Twins would surrender the draft pick it would take to sign Liriano, who rejected the Pirates’ qualifying offer.
  • Also from Neal, the Twins are one of over a dozen teams who have checked in on Pat Neshek this offseason.  Neshek was originally drafted by Minnesota in 2002 and pitched for the team from 2006-10.
  • The Twins have called about right-hander Ryan Vogelsong, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.  Vogelsong has a 3.74 ERA, 2.35 K/BB, 7.05 K/9 and 42.4% grounder rate over the last four seasons with the Giants, throwing at least 179 2/3 IP in three out of those four years.
  • Before Jason Frasor re-signed with the Royals, the Twins made a push to land the righty reliever, agent Dave Meier told Berardino.  “The Twins had a lot of interest in him,” Meier said. “They stepped up and made an early offer. We were definitely considering that along with Kansas City and a couple other teams. The Twins were one of a select few clubs as we kind of narrowed things down.”

Twins Notes: Coaches, Yang, Pitching Targets, Hunter, Duensing

The Twins announced the hiring of longtime Orioles minor league coach Butch Davis as their first base coach yesterday, adding to their recent list of coaching additions. While they’ve drawn a bit of flak for keeping most of their hires in-house, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reports (Twitter link) that Minnesota reached out to recently dismissed Cubs skipper Rick Renteria about the bench coach vacancy (since filled by internal candidate Joe Vavra), but Renteria declined to interview. Similarly, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets that the Twins wanted Delino DeShields to serve as their first base coach, but he took a position managing the Reds’ Triple-A affiliate, as his ultimate goal is to manage in the Majors someday.

Here’s more on the Twins…

  • GM Terry Ryan told reporters yesterday, including La Valle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, that Minnesota did not win the bidding for Korean lefty Hyeon-jong Yang (Twitter link). There was some confusion as to whether the Twins or Rangers won the bidding, with some speculating that they made very similar bids. The point is moot, regardless, as the KIA Tigers did not accept the winning bid for their top pitcher’s services, as it was deemed too low.
  • The Twins have interest in right-hander Edinson Volquez, reports Wolfson. Additionally, they’ve had conversations with agent Greg Genske, who represents both Francisco Liriano and Brett Anderson. Minnesota is expected to meet with Justin Masterson‘s agent next week at the Winter Meetings, and they met with CAA (the agency that represents Jake Peavy and Nori Aoki) at last month’s GM Meetings, Wolfson adds. However, there’s no real traction on either CAA client at this time.
  • Wolfson also tweets that the Twins have made an official offer to Torii Hunter, who is expected to reach a decision soon. The Rangers are said to be pushing hard for Hunter, who reportedly prefers to sign with a contender. That makes a return to Minnesota seem doubtful.
  • The Twins have given no indication that they plan to non-tender southpaw reliever Brian Duensing today, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Duensing, 31, is projected to earn $2.5MM in arbitration and was listed by MLBTR as a non-tender candidate.