Starting pitcher Brett Anderson will not be back in the Oakland A’s rotation in 2020. The left-handed free agent signed with the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday, and his new deal will guarantee him $5 million with a chance to earn another $2 million in incentives, reports Buster Olney of ESPN.
Anderson spent the last two seasons in green and gold, each time on one-year free agent contracts. During those two summers he enjoyed one of the best and healthiest stretches of pitching in his career — he made a total of 48 starts, threw 256⅓ innings, and posted a totally decent 4.07 ERA and 4.45 FIP. In 2019, he tied his career-high with 31 starts, and came just five innings short of setting a personal best in that department. He wasn’t a star, but he was a solid contributor to two A’s squads that both reached the postseason.
Anderson, 2019: 3.89 ERA, 176 ip, 90 Ks, 49 BB, 20 HR, 4.57 FIP
This run of sustained success helped put Anderson back on the map. After struggling to stay healthy for six of the previous seven seasons (just once making more than 13 starts in that span), he had to settle for a minor league contract with the A’s entering 2018. Last winter he upgraded to a small MLB deal, and now this time around he’s more than tripled his 2019 salary.
However, his next step will not come in Oakland. The A’s rotation is as full as it’s been in years, with Frankie Montas, Mike Fiers, Sean Manaea, and Chris Bassitt representing four quality arms, plus other options including top prospect Jesus Luzardo and out-of-options righty Daniel Mengden.
It remains to be seen how the starting five will shake out, but there are at least more names to choose from than there have been the last few winters. As such, the team appears to be more focused on bullpen help than starters. Earlier this week, Tanner Roark also departed as a free agent, signing with the Blue Jays.
Analysis: Darn. I would have happily accepted Anderson back for some extra rotation depth, or even as a piggyback tandem option to pair with one of the young arms with recent injury histories (like Luzardo or A.J. Puk or Daulton Jefferies) who may not be ready for a full-season workload. But it’s not meant to be, and I’m not sure I would have gone up to $5-7 million for him anyway. He certainly earned that payday, but he’s no longer an obvious bargain like he was the last couple seasons.
Good luck to Anderson in Milwaukee!