Now 30 years old, the hard-throwing Anderson debuted with the Angels back in 2018 and spent the bulk of the 2018-19 seasons in a high-leverage role with the Halos. During that two-year stretch, he picked up five saves and 33 holds, pitching to an overall 4.75 ERA in 102 1/3 innings out of the bullpen. Averaging 96 mph with his heater (including 97.5 mph in his debut season), Anderson fanned 27.7% of his opponents but regularly battled command issues, evidenced by a woeful 15.7% walk rate (plus five hit batters and 13 wild pitches).
Despite his command struggles, Anderson had generally carved out a place in the Angels’ bullpen — but a Grade 2 oblique strain early in camp in 2020 followed by a torn ligament in his pitching elbow when ramping up for the shortened 2020 season changed that outlook. Anderson underwent Tommy John surgery in late July of 2020, and the Halos non-tendered him in the offseason rather than giving him a raise in arbitration while knowing he’d likely miss the entire 2021 season.
Anderson signed a two-year minor league contract with the Rangers that offseason — a deal clearly brokered with an eye toward the 2022 season. Anderson had a decent showing in spring training 2022 but didn’t crack the Opening Day roster in Texas. He never got much of a chance to earn a spot in their bullpen, either, as he was placed back on the injured list after just three Triple-A appearances and didn’t return to the mound last year.
Anderson likely has a ways to go before he’s considered a viable option for the Kansas City bullpen, but the Royals ought to be taking all the fliers they can, given the struggles of their relief corps in 2023. The Kansas City bullpen ranks 28th in the Majors with a 5.10 ERA. Aroldis Chapman, Scott Barlow and Taylor Clarke are all having nice seasons, and lefty Amir Garrett is touting a 3.00 ERA (even if he’s unlikely to sustain it thanks to a ghastly 17.7% walk rate).
The Royals have struggled to find solid performers beyond that bunch, and given their status as clear sellers this summer, they could soon be in need of even more bullpen help. Chapman and Barlow will be prime trade candidates, given that Chapman is playing on an affordable one-year deal and Barlow is controlled only through the 2024 season. Clarke could also draw interest, but he has another two seasons of club control remaining beyond the current one, so Kansas City might be a bit more inclined to hang onto him. Garrett, also a free agent at season’s end, could hold appeal as a hard-throwing lefty who can miss bats, but the aforementioned poor command is a longstanding issue that has escalated to new heights in 2023.