Just how far along the sides are isn’t clear at this time, though Anderson has been out of action for what the team has labeled “personal reasons.” A team source would neither confirm nor deny the discussions with Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune (via Twitter), but did note that no announcement is expected today.
Anderson, 23, hasn’t even yet reached a full year of MLB service time. He picked up 115 days on the active roster in 2016, which means he’s on track to reach arbitration eligibility in 2020 and qualify for free agency in 2023.
Long considered a quality prospect, Anderson provided a strong debut season last year. Over 431 plate appearances, he posted a .283/.306/.432 batting line with nine home runs and ten stolen bases. He also delivered 22 doubles and six triples in his first go at the big leagues.
Anderson also showed stellar glovework at short, racking up well-above-average ratings from both UZR and DRS despite recording 14 errors. That sets a solid floor moving forward, though it remains to be seen just how much offense Anderson will deliver over the long haul.
The big question with Anderson’s bat is whether he can improve upon (or overcome) his rather ugly plate discipline marks. In 2016, he recorded a 27.1% strikeout rate while walking in just 3.0% of his plate appearances. That continued a long history of less-than-ideal K/BB rates in the minors.
Further, though he has long run a lofty batting average on balls in play in the minors, Anderson’s .375 BABIP seems likely to regress. Just three qualifying hitters posted higher marks last year. It remains to be seen, too, whether Anderson can continue the power boost he showed in 2016; his 13 dingers between the majors and highest level of the minors were easily a personal best, and his .149 isolated slugging mark also outpaced his typical levels.
That said, there are perhaps some reasons to believe Anderson can continue to grow as a hitter. The former first-round pick and consensus top-100 prospect certainly has the pedigree, and it’s promising that he was able to produce in the majors despite a fairly aggressive promotion up the ladder. Plus, he might add yet more value on the bases, as he did swiped 49 bags in 125 games at Double-A in 2015.
Prospective terms aren’t yet known. It’s rare to see extensions occur at this early stage of a player’s career, and no player with less than a year of service has scored more than $20MM guaranteed. That’s how much Chris Archer took home in the spring of 2014; he’s just one of four such players to score a long-term deal since Evan Longoria’s six-year, $17.5MM pact back in 2008.