The Toronto Blue Jays entered the off-season with a very clear need to acquire some quality starting pitching depth and they wasted no time making their first move to shore up the roster’s biggest weakness.
On Monday afternoon the team acquired starter Chase Anderson from the Milwaukee Brewers, reportedly in exchange for minor leaguer Chad Spanberger.
Anderson, who turns 32 at the end of the month, has made 160 starts over six seasons in the major leagues, pitching to a career 3.94 ERA (106 ERA+) and compiling 7.5 WAR, per Fangraphs. His best season came in 2017, posting a 2.74 ERA and 3.2 WAR.
With numbers that pop out as average to slightly-above-average across the board, Anderson succeeds when limiting hard contact. He was in the 83rd percentile in exit velocity and 76th in hard hit percentage in 2019. He also posted one of the lowest zone contact rates in the league, a 26th-best 83.6 percent. That’s lower than names like Stephen Strasburg and Walker Buehler, and right in line with Charlie Morton.
For all the good numbers there are equal measures of bad ones. Historically he has had trouble with home runs, allowing a National League high 30 long balls in 2018, and teams beat up on his extremely average fastball and low-spin curve last season.
He is, to minimize an entire career’s worth of performance into a single line, an extremely average starting pitcher. Your view of his worth varies highly on the state of the rest of the rotation. On a team stacked with arms he’d likely fade out of view, but for a team desperate for consistency from their starters as the Blue Jays, he represents someone that will be relied on to take the ball every five days and eat up some innings. In 2019, his 1.2 WAR would have placed third among Blue Jays starters behind Marcus Stroman and Trent Thornton. He’s not Gerritt Cole, but he’s not quite Edwin Jackson, either.
Anderson’s contract has two years remaining, both club options. He is slated make $8.5M in 2020, and $9.5M in 2021.
In return, the Blue Jays reportedly moved on from Chad Spanberger, who is a prospect strictly by the definition that he hasn’t played in the major leagues. He was acquired by the Jays in the Seunghwan Oh deadline trade in 2018. The 24-year-old Spanberger played at Double-A New Hampshire last season, posting a .707 OPS in 122 games.
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