On Monday, the Oakland Athletics signed free agent, left-handed starting pitcher Scott Kazmir. With the emergence of young pitchers like Jarrod Parker, A.J. Griffin, Sonny Gray and Dan Straily in addition to Kazmir and the possible return of Bartolo Colon, the A’s are loaded with starting pitching.
One guy who does not seem to fit in Oakland’s immediate plans is 25-year-old left-handed pitcher Brett Anderson. If Oakland makes Anderson available, I am sure there will be many interested teams, and the Chicago Cubs should definitely be one of them. Right now the focus of the Cubs’ front office is on the future, and adding a left-handed starter that has had some big league success and has not hit his prime years simply makes too much sense.
The biggest knock on Anderson is his inability to stay healthy. He missed a majority of the 2011 and 2012 seasons due to an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. He was also out for a huge portion of 2013 with a foot injury, and when he did return late in the season he was pitching out of the bullpen. The injury history is obviously a concern, but he appears to be healthy right now.
When healthy, Anderson has had some nice success in the big leagues. In 73 career starts, Anderson has an ERA of 3.81, but more importantly his FIP is at 3.56. He strikes out a fair amount of batters (7.1 per nine innings) and does not issue very many walks (2.4 walks per nine).
He has a $8 million contract for 2014 with a $12 million club option in 2015. That is a lot of money for a player that has struggled to stay on the field recently. That being said, the Cubs are currently in a position to take chances.
The Cubs are obviously in the market for young talent but most notably young starting pitching. They currently boast one of the best minor league systems in all of baseball, but their best prospects are offensive players like Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and Albert Almora. The Cubs do have some interesting pitching prospects, but they are undoubtedly looking to add more talent in that department.
Taking a risk on a guy like Anderson is exactly what the Cubs need to be doing right now. His value is low because of the injuries, so they should not have to give up a ton in a trade for him. He has the stuff to become a top of the rotation lefty. Obviously, the health is a concern, but if they can land a mid-20s player with that kind of ceiling and not give up key pieces for their future it seems like a no-brainer to me.