FEB. 8: The Phillies have announced the signing.
FEB. 3, 9:55am: Anderson will be guaranteed $4MM, tweets Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
9:40am: It’s a one-year, Major League deal for Anderson, MLBTR has learned.
9:10am: The Phillies are in agreement on a contract with free-agent righty Chase Anderson, reports Fansided’s Robert Murray (via Twitter). The Hub Sports Management client will join a growing stockpile of experienced arms vying for innings at the back of the Philadelphia rotation. His deal is pending the completion of a physical.
Anderson, 33, spent the 2020 season with the Blue Jays but missed the beginning of the shortened season by an oblique strain. He returned and pitched well in August before scuffling through a rough month in September. Overall, he totaled just 33 2/3 innings with a 7.22 ERA.
That unsightly mark notwithstanding, there are plenty of reasons to expect that the Anderson pickup could be a worthwhile, low-cost investment. From 2014-19, Anderson was a durable source of average or better innings, pitching to a 3.94 ERA and 4.43 SIERA over the life of 857 frames between the D-backs and the Brewers. Anderson’s only IL stints in that time were a minimum stay for triceps tightness in 2015 and then brief absences due to an oblique strain and a laceration on his finger. His arm held up nicely in the rotation both in Arizona and Milwaukee, and even last year’s absence had nothing to do with his elbow or shoulder.
Digging a bit deeper into his 2020 work, there’s cause for optimism there as well. Anderson decreased the use of his four-seamer in favor of more cutters and changeups, and the results were encouraging in some regards. He posted a career-high 24.7 percent strikeout rate that checked in above the league average, and his 6.5 percent walk rate was an improvement over his Brewers days, coming in well south of the league average. Anderson was plagued by a .362 average on balls in play and a home-run rate so lofty that positive regression is nearly inevitable (2.94 HR/9).
Anderson has been somewhat homer-prone throughout his career, but there’s little reason to expect such pronounced struggles to continue. Fielding-independent metrics that normalize home-run rate, such as xFIP (4.09) and SIERA (4.01), were quite a bit more bullish on him than his baseline ERA.
Anderson will join lefty Matt Moore on the big league roster as a cost-effective option at the back of the rotation behind top starters Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler and Zach Eflin. His addition could allow the Phillies to give top prospect Spencer Howard more time in Triple-A and to move Vince Velasquez to the bullpen, but it’s likely that each of Moore, Anderson, Howard and Velasquez will start games for the Phils in 2021. Teams are going to be more cautious than ever with workloads after last year’s shortened slate of games, so having multiple starting options is of increased importance. The Phils have also added Ivan Nova and Bryan Mitchell on minor league pacts.