The Blue Jays bolstered their starting rotation by acquiring Chase Anderson on Monday, and the trade makes a lot of sense to improve the 2020 roster.
The Blue Jays got an early start on improving their starting rotation on Monday, acquiring Chase Anderson from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for minor league first baseman, Chad Spanberger. There were several reports indicating that the Brewers weren’t sold on paying Anderson the 8.5 million he’s owed for 2020, which is why they made the quick deal to send him to Toronto.
Anderson wasn’t all that bad in 2019, making 27 starts (32 appearance overall), and pitching to a 4.21 ERA and a 1.266 WHIP across 139 innings. The effort was good for 1.7 bWAR, which won’t headline the Blue Jays’ 2020 rotation, but should be more than enough to help improve it.
Naturally there are some folks who will criticize anything the Blue Jays do, but this move has a lot of potential to work out in their favour. Anderson’s 8.5 million dollar salary is more than doable for the payroll-flexible franchise, and if he performs well he could turn into a nice trade chip. He also has an option for 2021 for 9.5 million that comes with a $500,000 buyout, so there is a lot of flexibility here. Again, he’s shouldn’t be relied on as a feature performer, but he should make a difference in the back-end of the rotation as long as he can stay healthy.
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The fact that the Blue Jays are in need of a frontline starter (or two) is why Anderson’s acquisition has been met with a sigh from some parts of the fanbase, but that shouldn’t be the case. There was and is going to be a need for depth in the rotation whether the Blue Jays can acquire a #1-2 starter this winter or not, and Anderson should be able to help to that end. Moving to the AL East isn’t going to be an easy transition for the right-hander, but it’s all about keeping expectations in check. If we rightly view him as a #3-5 starter, then he should be just fine.
The fact that the Blue Jays are moving this quickly on the rotation likely doesn’t tell us a whole lot about their plans moving forward. It’s nice to see them unafraid to take on Anderson’s 8.5 million, but they have all kinds of payroll room and that could turn out to be a bargain, especially if he pitches like he did back in 2017 when he was worth 4.2 bWAR. He’s unlikely to replicate those numbers, but 8.5 million is a fair number for even what he did in 2019 when he was worth 1.7 bWAR.
Assuming the Blue Jays also bring back Matt Shoemaker, having a rotation that includes those two and some of a group including Trent Thornton, Ryan Borucki, Anthony Kay, Jacob Waguespack, T.J. Zeuch and more, they should be on the path to improved numbers from last season. That said, that isn’t saying a whole lot after a season of rotation struggles, which is why there’s a need to add further.
That likely won’t come in the form of a true stud like Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg, but hopefully the Blue Jays bring in a quality veteran in the next tier like a Zack Wheeler, Jake Odorizzi, or even someone like Kyle Gibson. Any reliable arm will help them improve from where they were a year ago, and pushing guys like Kay, Waguespack, Zeuch and even others back to Triple-A is not a bad thing at this point. Each of them will get an opportunity at some point throughout a long 162 game season anyway, and I’d rather see them earn it rather than the alternative.
If the Blue Jays can enter the 2020 season with a rotation that includes Shoemaker, Anderson, Thornton, Borucki/Kay, and a yet to be acquired veteran, I think we’ll have to consider that a win. Anderson shouldn’t be viewed as ‘the’ rotation get for the Blue Jays this off-season, but his acquisition is certainly a step in the right direction.