It’s been an offseason focused on stockpiling prospects and shedding payroll for the Pirates, but the club on Wednesday announced its first Major League free-agent signing of the winter. Left-hander Tyler Anderson has signed a one-year contract for the 2021 season, while Rule 5 righty Jose Soriano has been placed on the 60-day IL to open a spot on the 40-man roster. Anderson, a client of Beverly Hills Sports Council, is reportedly guaranteed $2.5MM on the deal.
Anderson became a free agent when the Giants non-tendered him at the Dec. 2 deadline. The 31-year-old appeared in 13 of their games last season, started 11, and notched a 4.37 ERA in 59 2/3 innings. Those numbers look OK, but Anderson survived despite below-average strikeout, walk and groundball percentages of 15.8, 9.6 and 28.5, respectively. Anderson also only managed a 5.69 SIERA, which ranked next to last among 81 pitchers who amassed at least 50 innings in 2020.
Before he joined the Giants, Anderson spent 2016-19 as a member of the Rockies, with whom he largely posted acceptable production. Overall, Anderson has a 4.65 ERA/4.36 SIERA with a 21.0 percent strikeout rate and a 7.7 percent walk rate across 456 2/3 innings. The former Oregon star and first-round pick has seen his time on the mound interrupted by a series of knee injuries, by Anderson’s elbow and shoulder have held up throughout his pro career.
Anderson should fill a rotation spot this year with the non-contending Pirates, who don’t have anything resembling a front-line starter at the moment after trading away both Joe Musgrove and Jameson Taillon this winter as part of their ongoing rebuild. Anderson will join Steven Brault and Chad Kuhl as the most experienced starters on the 40-man roster in Pittsburgh, while younger arms like Mitch Keller, JT Brubaker, Wil Crowe and Miguel Yajure will vie for opportunities to prove themselves at the MLB level.
Any of Anderson, Brault or Kuhl could emerge as summer trade chips if they’re throwing well this year, and it’s still plausible that either Brault or Kuhl could be moved between now and Opening Day.