Trading Brett Anderson: Better Late Than Never?


Trusting Brett Anderson to stay healthy is like trusting your kleptomaniac friend to keep an eye on your house while you’re out of town.  Not a good idea.

The most frustrating part about Anderson’s career thus far has been the amazing flashes of talent he’s shown us, teased us all with.  The devastating slider to right handed hitters is simply something to behold, but unfortunately we don’t get to see it often enough.  Anderson’s 2013 was yet another lost year, he suffered from an ankle injury that cost him the bulk of the season, what was supposed to be his rebound year from Tommy John surgery.  When he was on the mound though, he was ineffective in both a starting role and while working from the bullpen.

Apr 24, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Oakland Athletics pitcher Brett Anderson (49) delivers a pitch during the second inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

It’s always something with Brett Anderson, be it an injury or ineffectiveness, and the chance to perhaps extract the highest possible value from him has long since passed.  Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reported last December that the Royals were attempting to acquire Anderson, dangling stud prospect Wil Myers in a potential deal.  Of course Myers was sent to Tampa Bay for James Shields instead after being rebuffed by the A’s.  Needless to say, not pulling the trigger on that deal was a monumental mistake.

A deal like that could very well have changed the entire complexion of the 2013 season for the A’s, as well as the years to come.  But that ship has sailed.

Now, Anderson is yet again a broken, talented, relatively cheap asset, and reports have surfaced that the A’s may actively seek to move him this offseason.  Susan Slusser reported late last week that the Blue Jays were hot after Anderson, going so far as scouting him during the final weeks of the season.  The possibilities with the Blue Jays are admittedly intriguing.

No, the A’s aren’t going to bring in Jose Bautista in exchange for Anderson.  But they could potentially get some value for him in the person of Brett Lawrie.  Lawrie was once thought to be one of the top prospects in baseball, but he’s had his share of injuries as well that have derailed his status.  He too, was far from spectacular during the times he was on the field in 2013.  In fact, aside from a torrid stretch at the end of 2011, Lawrie has failed to live up to expectations.  That makes him the classic late bloomer, who just might figure it out with a change of scenery.  He is only 23 years old though, so a straight up trade for the 25 year old Anderson may not be possible, but a deal could certainly be worked out.

There are a number of other possibilities around the league, and pitching is always at a premium, so Brett Anderson will hold some level of value on the market regardless of his injury history.  The A’s can use Anderson to address one of the many needs they have in their everyday lineup, and theoretically they could put together a stronger lineup without so many platoons.  Either way, making Brett Anderson someone else’s problem is likely a prudent idea.

The A’s have been down this road before, with a pitcher by the name of Rich Harden.  The right hander with electric stuff who simply couldn’t stay on the field.  The A’s saw his value decrease after a series of ailments, but they got the Chicago Cubs to bite on a deal for him, and netted one player who has had a profound impact on the A’s.  That player of course is third baseman, and MVP candidate Josh Donaldson.  It took Donaldson a while, but his talent has made its way to the surface and the A’s are now seeing the fruits of that deal.

Trading Anderson, even now, after his peak value has gone by the wayside, is still a good idea.  It would make sense for the A’s to do everything in their power to make it happen sooner rather than later, before other teams have a chance to reconsider.