Rockies 2015 — What to Do with Brett Anderson

Very interesting article worth a read this morning from @Swydan regarding the Colorado Rockies next year.  Recently, Troy Tulowitzki popped off about the losing on Blake Street, and reasonably so – at press time, Colorado owns the worst record in baseball.  I liked most of the suggestions – letting Michael Cuddyer and Jorge De La Rosa walk are no brainers, and many of the sign and trades make baseball and financial sense.

The piece that I struggle with is his suggestion to let Brett Anderson walk.  Anderson’s contract offer the Rockies club a options of $12M in 2015, with a $1.5M buyout.  Of course, Anderson’s issue is always health, not talent – and he currently sits on the DL.  Since the beginning of the 2012 season, he has thrown 123 innings, due to a variety of back, leg, foot and arm maladies.

The tantalizing issue, of course, is that when he pitches, he pitches well.  BA delivered those 123 innings at an xFIP of 3.31, and his 61% ground ball rate is top 10 in all of baseball over that period (min 100 IP, but including starters and relievers), which is doubly important for denizens of Coors Field.   Toss in an almost 20% K rate, and you have the makings of the kind of SP in which the Rockies would otherwise be investing.

As always, the issue comes back to price.  The club option for 2015 in essence is 1 year/$10.5M (since the $1.5M is spent already, either in buyout or salary).  Here is the list of 2014 SP signings.  Looking at comparably priced SPs – Dan Haren took a 1/10 deal in LA, Jason Hammel got 1/8 in Chicago.  For those able to grab a longer commitment but similar AAV, Scott Kazmir got 2/22 from Oakland, Scott Feldman got 3/30 in Baltimore, Ervin Santana got 2/14 in Kansas City.  I just don’t see a single member of that list that I’d be eager to invest in more heavily than Anderson – Scott Kazmir made the All-Star team this summer, but in 2012 was pitching independent ball.  Haren has many (if not as many) durability questions now given the mileage on his arm, and Scott Feldman and Jason Hammel don’t have nearly the upside, though each come with lower risk.

Ultimately, I just can’t see how 1/$10.5M doesn’t work for Colorado, even given frustration with BA’s fragility.  His skillset is what Coors desperately requires, and the price tag is right in line with free agent SPs with significant question marks.  If I’m Colorado, I exercise that option without hesitation, let him pitch out the contract and take the draft pick if he stays healthy, posts a monster year and convinces another team to invest him him long-term in December 2015.  More than likely, he pitches 50-100 innings in 2015 and you decide not to offer the QO, but the club option means you’ve minimized your financial exposure and the options for that $10M on the SP market aren’t otherwise particularly enticing.

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About Bill Porter

Bill is an aspiring sportswriter (attorney by day) born in Washington DC, raised in New York, and currently living in San Francisco with his wife Kirsten and two spazzy labs, Fletch and Bear. Follow me on Twitter at @wfporter1972
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