If we’ve seen one thing this winter, Oakland’s Billy Beane is on a rampage, going against his usual grain and adding salary and age to a relatively young squad. The signings of Scott Kazmir (2-years, $22 million) and the trade for Jim Johnson ($10 million plus in 2014) are shrewd moves by a guy that always seems to have an eye to the future. His later trade of Seth Smith for Luke Gregerson was just the perfect exclamation point on the declaration.
The Oakland Athletics are going to compete for a championship in 2014.
However, while Beane may be making adjustments to his modus operandi, don’t look at this as a chance to get one by him. Beane made his acquisitions smartly. He committed just two years to Kazmir, albeit on an overpay, but only did so knowing that Bartolo Colon was going to cost more. Likewise, he added Johnson and Gregerson for spare parts, essentially splitting the salary commitments between the two to form one of the deeper bullpens in the game.
So when I hear, from Susan Slusser, that the Blue Jays are “infatuated” with one of Beane’s spare parts, Brett Anderson in this case, I become a bit uneasy.
— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) December 3, 2013
Now, Alex Anthopoulos has a track record of being a shrewd negotiator, but last winter’s deals for R.A. Dickey and Josh Johnson, and Mark Buehrle, and the 2012 deal for J.A. Happ, exposed the Toronto’s general manager to overpaying for pitching. Outside of the Brandon Morrow deal a few years back, the deals for rotation help have always come at a high price.
Enter Billy Beane, with an available, controllable starter, albeit one with an injury history, and Anthopoulos with his need to fill a hole or two in the rotation, and we have a recipe that could be tough to take.
For his part, injury history aside for now, Brett Anderson is an interesting candidate. He features a career ground-ball percentage of 54.9% and a fly-ball rate of 28.3%, both of which would play well in Toronto. He also features a solid walk and strike-out rates of 2.4 and 7.1 respectively. At 25-years-old and under team control through 2015, there is value there to be had, but at the right price.
The right price needs to take into consideration Anderson’s rather extensive injury history (Courtesy of Wikipedia).
2009 – Forearm trouble (did not miss a start)
2010 – Forearm strain (missed almost half the season)
2011 – Tommy John Surgery (made 13 starts before undergoing Tommy John Surgery in June)
2012 – Recovery from Tommy John Surgery (made 6 starts before landing on the DL with a side oblique strain)
2013 – Ankle injury (appeared in 6 games before suffering an ankle injury, later revealed to have stress fracture in his right foot)
There is a pretty extensive history of arm trouble there, and if history is any indicator, Billy Beane doesn’t part with a good value without some knowledge of its life expectancy. The Blue Jays could take a risk here, but Anthopoulos will want to approach it as such. Dealing from a position of strength, like the bullpen, could help with that, but one would have to imagine the additions of both Johnson and Gregerson would take away some of Oakland’s need to for bullpen help. The same could be said about the A’s outfield, as they addressed that by acquiring Craig Gentry from the Rangers on Tuesday. Equally noted, while the A’s could use help at second base, Maicer Izturis isn’t likely going to get a deal done for Oakland.
If the Blue Jays are looking at Brett Anderson, a Major League component is not going to get the deal done. Meanwhile, Anthopoulos will be careful about digging too deeply into the farm system here. But what kind of package gets a deal done but also protects against the risk it would carry?