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  • The Case For Brett Anderson

    Terry Ryan is acutely aware of how difficult it is to acquire front-end starting pitching. After trading Denard Span for Alex Meyer a year ago, he explained the logic behind giving up an established major-league regular for a player who hadn't yet played above Single-A, noting that with potential No. 1 starters, "Sometimes you've got to get them when they're in the early stages of their pro career or you aren't going to get them, period."

    He's right. Once a high-end pitching prospect reaches Triple-A or successfully transitions to the majors, he becomes exceedingly tough to pry away from his organization, because there's basically nothing more valuable in baseball than an inexpensive starter that you can slot near the top of your rotation.

    The Twins acquired an exceptional talent in Meyer, and paid a substantial price to do so, but also took on significant risk because the right-hander had made only 25 professional starts and was still multiple levels away from the majors. As Ryan noted, that's just the way you have to play the game unless you're looking to spend exorbitant amounts in free agency (as the Ddogers did last year with Zack Greinke) or give away a massive prospect haul (as the Royals did with James Shields).

    The only other ways to bring in a potential ace from the outside are to get creative or get lucky. The Twins have certainly accomplished the latter in the past (see: Johan Santana in the Rule 5 draft) but you can't count on that. I like creative solutions, which is why I'm very intrigued by Oakland's Brett Anderson.

    A former second-round draft pick, Anderson rose rapidly through the minor-league ranks, peaking as Baseball America's No. 7 prospect before he debuted in the majors at age 21 in 2009. In his first two seasons with the A's, the left-hander posted a 3.57 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 225/67 K/BB ratio over 287 innings. Those are superb numbers, particularly when you consider his age and experience at the time.

    Unfortunately, Anderson was limited to 19 starts in 2010 by a forearm strain, setting off a depressing string of injuries that sent his promising career into a spiral. As is all too often the case, the forearm issue proved a precursor to Tommy John, which the southpaw underwent midway through the 2011 campaign. He spent most of 2012 recovering from the surgery, returning late in the year with strong results, though an oblique strain ended his season a bit prematurely.

    In 2013, Anderson appeared poised to make his triumphant return to the scene, but after six appearances he went down with an ankle injury that later turned out to be a stress fracture in his foot, costing him nearly his entire season. He returned in the final month and pitched exclusively out of the bullpen the rest of the way.

    With only 163 innings combined over the last three years, Anderson is an enormous durability risk. It's hard to know where he's at right now because there's just not much to go on in the way of recent performance.

    He's also owed $8 million next year with a $12 million option for 2015. Given that they made the playoffs without him this season (and just signed Scott Kazmir to a two-year contract), the A's may feel motivated to move Anderson and his salary commitment. So it's no surprise that they are rumored to be floating him.

    It goes without saying that Anderson is far from a sure thing at this point. But there are a few key points to keep in mind when assessing his situation.

    1) He has already undergone Tommy John surgery, so his elbow should theoretically be good to go.

    2) The ailments that have bothered him since that surgery -- an oblique strain and a foot fracture -- are non-arm injuries that don't figure to be long-term concerns.

    3) He's still only 25.

    That last point is a big one. Anderson is a former top prospect who was at one point viewed as one of the finest young hurlers in the game, and he's still in his mid-20s. His circumstances have diminished his potential market, and while Billy Beane isn't exactly the type to give anything away, this is a situation where you could gamble on a special talent without selling the farm.

    Make no mistake... it definitely is a gamble. But with their deep farm system, their growing stable of backup-option starters and their dire need for upper-echelon pitching talent, it's one that the Twins are positioned as well as anyone to take.

    They are rumored to be one of the teams that has inquired about the southpaw, so we'll see if anything progresses next week when Ryan and Beane are both in Orlando for the Winter Meetings.
    This article was originally published in blog: The Case For Brett Anderson started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 124 Comments
    1. Winston Smith's Avatar
      Winston Smith -
      Any guess as to what it would cost in prospects?
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      I don't know that anyone is saying he's not worth a risk, the question is, what risk/cost?
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      Would depend on the price, and I would want a timeframe for an extension to be signed. Giving away much for 2 years is not worth it, especially when you don't rate to contend this upcoming year.
    1. Monkeypaws's Avatar
      Monkeypaws -
      Billy Beane is no dummy, and prying him away from Oakland wouldn't be cheap, regardless of health issues.

      It is a classic high risk/high reward proposition.
    1. ericchri's Avatar
      ericchri -
      Lottery tickets are cheap for a reason. Oakland can have someone from our bullpen not named Perkins and a middling prospect (not in our top 15 or so), but I wouldn't feel good about most anything else. His last injury doesn't look like the kind of thing that should have a lasting effect on his pitching, but even so he's barely pitched recently.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Prospects prospects prospects. You know at some point you got to trade them when high enough, otherwise they become what the Twins' minor league pitcher of the year award winners (other than Gibson) became.

      I have no issue trading any tradeable (ie. Steward, Eades, Gonsalves are not) prospect not named Sano, Meyer or Buxton for Anderson. Funny enough, the Twins are having a jam of RHSP in their prospect ranks and it is certain that some of them will not pan out. May, Berrios, Felix Jorge, et al. You got Meyer, Gibson, Nolasco and Hughes ahead of them, so you got to trade them when they still have value...
    1. richardkr34's Avatar
      richardkr34 -
      Quote Originally Posted by ericchri View Post
      Lottery tickets are cheap for a reason. Oakland can have someone from our bullpen not named Perkins and a middling prospect (not in our top 15 or so), but I wouldn't feel good about most anything else. His last injury doesn't look like the kind of thing that should have a lasting effect on his pitching, but even so he's barely pitched recently.
      After getting Gregerson I'm not sure how interested in bullpen help they'll be. Maybe something like Santana and Melotakis...
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      20M in committements have to be factored into this too. This really is selling low for Beane, which is something he doesn't do much. I have a hard time thinking his value will be worse next year than it is right now (which honestly is likely a major league reliever or a C+ level prospect). If he has another injury plagued season, the value wont' change. If he doesn't, it likely will. So here's what I would ask. Would you trade a prospect like Adam Walker, who strikes me as a boom or bust guy in the majors and is likely redundant in this system for a guy like Anderson with the hopes of locking him up long term if he rebounds? Something tells me Beane is floating this, but he's not going to take a Jarrod Burton or Casey Fein.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      . So here's what I would ask. Would you trade a prospect like Adam Walker, who strikes me as a boom or bust guy in the majors and is likely redundant in this system for a guy like Anderson with the hopes of locking him up long term if he rebounds?.
      In a heartbeat.

      But not sure that this would be enough
    1. AScheib50's Avatar
      AScheib50 -
      I haven't been as high on the Anderson talk as a lot around here, but the more I hear about it and the more I read I get more interested. I think I would do Adam Walker for Anderson...depending on who else is in that deal. But the idea of getting a possible ace lefty in his mid 20s is pretty enticing. I'm with Thrylos on trading some prospects while we have em. Can't keep them all, just have to make sure you trade the right pieces. But I think this would be a huge addition for the Twins.
    1. cmb0252's Avatar
      cmb0252 -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      I don't know that anyone is saying he's not worth a risk, the question is, what risk/cost?
      Pretty much this. Anderson would be a great lottery ticket but you buy lottery tickets because they are cheap. Everything depends on the asking cost.
    1. Smcginnity's Avatar
      Smcginnity -
      I think anything aside from Sano, Buxton, Stewart or Meyer, the Twins need to strongly consider this trade. I have to imagine a trade of Berrios, Taylor Rogers, and Tonkin could get this done. But, who knows with Beane. I'm VERY hesistant to trade Lewis Thorpe or Gonsvalves but at the same time, they are very far away.
    1. Smcginnity's Avatar
      Smcginnity -
      You know Beane will ask for a young pitcher in ANY deal. That's how they always have a well oiled stable of pitchers. They traded Dan Haren for Brett Anderson (and 7 others - including Carlos Gonzalez). Gio Gonzalez was traded for Tommy Milone. Trevor Cahill was traded for Jarrod Parker. That's what I worry about...I'm worried they will try and poach our SPs from the Single-A level and that they know more than we know. I guess it shows the trust I have in the Twin's brass to evaluating pitching talent
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Smcginnity View Post
      I think anything aside from Sano, Buxton, Stewart or Meyer, the Twins need to strongly consider this trade. I have to imagine a trade of Berrios, Taylor Rogers, and Tonkin could get this done. But, who knows with Beane. I'm VERY hesistant to trade Lewis Thorpe or Gonsvalves but at the same time, they are very far away.
      Cannot trade Gonsalves (or Stewart for that matter) until a year after they signed... Late summer
    1. SouthDakotaFarmer's Avatar
      SouthDakotaFarmer -
      Beane also loves cash. Check his history and he almost always gets his trading parter to send some cash considerations in the deal. Adam Walker, Tonkin, and cash could work. Who knows though. As Mcginnity said above, Beane loves to stockpile young SP. So, with that said I imagine my proposal wouldn't work without a Low-A SP in the deal. Crap, I typed all of that for nothing I guess.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      I think that Brett Anderson is equivalent to what Ricky Nolasco is in terms of potential, but he does come with higher injury risk (at least in theory). He is I would be fine with him being part of the rotation, but this conversation is correct. It's completely about what the Twins have to give up.

      It's not going to be a package of guys like Walker and Santana and relief pitchers. I mean, those guy may be included, but it will take a Rosario, Kepler, Berrios type as the starting point, and likely will take 3 more.

      Billy Beane will ask for Sano, Buxton and Meyer... Terry Ryan will say no. And then the negotiations will begin.
    1. Trautmann13's Avatar
      Trautmann13 -
      I would like almost any trade involving Rosario (as hard as that may be right now), and one or maybe 2 of our bullpen guys. The only guys I would not be happy about trading is swarzak and Perk. I feel like the two of them are key to that bullpen being what it is. But if Kepler, Meyer, May, Sano, or Buxton are involved...shut the door in Beanes face.
    1. Steve Lein's Avatar
      Steve Lein -
      Walker isn't going to land him as a frontrunner in a deal. It would have to start with a Rosario, Kepler, Berrios type, and then Walker as one of the other pieces.
    1. halfchest's Avatar
      halfchest -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      I think that Brett Anderson is equivalent to what Ricky Nolasco is in terms of potential, but he does come with higher injury risk (at least in theory). He is I would be fine with him being part of the rotation, but this conversation is correct. It's completely about what the Twins have to give up.

      It's not going to be a package of guys like Walker and Santana and relief pitchers. I mean, those guy may be included, but it will take a Rosario, Kepler, Berrios type as the starting point, and likely will take 3 more.

      Billy Beane will ask for Sano, Buxton and Meyer... Terry Ryan will say no. And then the negotiations will begin.
      I don't see how any pitcher who's averaged just over 50 innings a year for 3 years can command that much in a trade. That and the fact his innings these last three years weren't that amazing. I'd love to get him but just don't see any team giving up multiple prospects for him. Now if they keep him and he has a hot first half and they trade him at the deadline then yes. But right now I just don't see any team giving up more than C level prospects for him. Maybe one B level and that's it, even that I just don't see any teams paying up that much for him with the injury history.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by halfchest View Post
      I don't see how any pitcher who's averaged just over 50 innings a year for 3 years can command that much in a trade. That and the fact his innings these last three years weren't that amazing..
      Qualify "amazing"? Think about what Matt Moore (who is one year younger) is worth, and how "amazing" his last season was, and then look at this:

      xFIP
      2011 Anderson: 3.66; Moore: 1.85
      2012 Anderson: 3.06; Moore: 4.32
      2013 Anderson: 3.26; Moore: 4.35


      SIERA
      2011 Anderson: 3.61; Moore: 1.18
      2012 Anderson: 3.10; Moore: 4.08
      2013 Anderson: 3.31; Moore: 4.31

      Plus Anderson in a Leftie.

      The issue with Anderson is that he is in his last year of Arbitration (4th he was a super 2) and in order to get value you need to trade and agree to a longer term contact before the trade.
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