The Indians announced today that they’ve avoided arbitration with right-hander Cody Anderson. He’ll take home a salary of $641,500 for the 2019 season, per Fancred’s Jon Heyman (Twitter link). The mark checks in shy of his $900K projection from MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz, in part due to the fact that Anderson was something of a unique case, having missed the prior two seasons due to injury.
Now 28 years of age, Anderson debuted with Cleveland back in 2015 and gave the Indians 91 1/3 innings of 3.05 ERA ball over the life of 15 starts. A deeper look indicated that that level of run prevention wouldn’t be sustainable for Anderson barring an improvement in his perilously low 4.3 K/9 mark. Much of the success he enjoyed appeared attributable to a well below-average .237 BABIP and a fairly lofty 78.3 percent strand rate.
The 2016 season saw Anderson ramp up the usage of both his changeup and cutter, resulting in a dramatic uptick in strikeouts (8.0 K/9). However, the pendulum swung in the complete opposite direction with regard to his average on balls in play (.381 BABIP) and strand rate (66.8 percent), leaving Anderson with an ugly 6.68 ERA through 60 2/3 innings before an injury sent him to the operating table.
Anderson’s return from Tommy John surgery back in March 2017 has been a bit slower than that of most Tommy John patients, but the good news for him and the Indians is that he’ll be a full two years removed from the procedure come Spring Training. Anderson made a trio of scoreless rehab appearances in the minors late in the season, pitching three innings with four strikeouts against two walks. Given the depth the Indians possess in the rotation and the uncertainty that permeates their relief corps, it’s possible that Anderson will be brought back into the fold as a bullpen piece. He did move from the rotation to the bullpen late in the 2016 and saw his average fastball jump from about 92.2 mph to 94.1 mph in the process.