Each and every year, I, like most Cub fans, think about different scenarios that the front office could and should do to make our team better throughout the course of the season. Most of my trade ideas probably wouldn’t make it through the GM mode of “MLB: The Show”, but I love to speculate anyhow. The Cubs did make a move two days ago that I was hoping would happen…sign Brett Anderson. Granted, the guy hasn’t had a whole lot of time to prove his worth due to injuries that has plagued his career. The times that he has been healthy however he has shown that he can be a top of the line starter for any ball club.
IF Anderson can stay healthy, this is an absolute steal for the Cubs. Anderson did pass his physical on Wednesday which guarantees him a 1 year deal worth 3.5 million. If he meets all the incentives in his contract that number could reach 10 million. I’m not a big money guy… but if he reaches that 10 million it could mean really good things for both Anderson and the Cubs.
The Cubs really do not have much to lose in this deal. If Anderson is a true team player and good clubhouse guy, the Cubs could use him in a couple of different roles. Anderson has been a starter his entire career in the majors. Going into spring training he will definitely be competing for that fifth starter spot along with Mike Montgomery. Anderson has pitched in the majors for 8 seasons with three different teams (A’s, Rockies, Dodgers). Although he has never reached 200 innings in a season during his career (175 and 180), Anderson has put up respectable numbers that would bolster the back end of the rotation behind Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks, and John Lackey. Just two seasons ago he logged 180 innings while posting a 3.69 E.R.A. He does have a habit of giving up the long ball (18 in 2015) but has solid K/BB stats that could hopefully offset the dingers (116K/46BB in 2015).
IF Montgomery were to win that fifth spot (and take into consideration that Joe Maddon doesn’t go with a sixth starter much this season) Anderson would be a big boost to our bullpen in the role that has been left open with Travis Wood‘s likely departure. Wood was the crafty lefty that the Cubs could count on to get situational hitters out and to also come in to eat up innings when one of our starters did not have their stuff that game. The difference between Anderson and Wood from the bullpen is the velocity coming at the hitter. Yes, I know, velocity isn’t everything and it is not always effective with major league hitting. But pairing him up with the likes of Carl Edwards, Jr., Pedro Strop, and Hector Rondon (to get to Wade Davis), the Cubs bullpen could be dynamic from the 5th inning on.
Obviously, staying healthy is the key for Anderson. If healthy this signing could work out for both Anderson and the Cubs. It could favor Anderson because he would not be counted on to carry all the work of the pitching staff. If he does what he is supposed to do then he is in line for a bigger pay day next off-season. It could favor the Cubs in a couple of different scenarios. First, he could bounce back and have a career year to be the piece that still has most fans wondering…the 5th starter. Second, he could be a trade piece in July that could bring back some younger prospects to help with future positions of the team (in case the Cubs aren’t able to sign a couple of players).
Losing out on signing Tyson Ross stung just a bit. But the Anderson signing has helped in the fact that this guy could fill two roles instead of just being a starter. Memo to Anderson: Just stay healthy.