MLB Hot Stove Lowdown: Tim Anderson lands in Miami

Most teams will start playing in spring training games this weekend and it seemed to spurn some of them into action. This week, a former AL batting champ landed in Miami and superutility player is headed to Detroit. We also learned that a top NL pitcher is starting the season on the injured list with a shoulder injury and a young starter is going to be sticking out Pittsburgh for the next handful of years. So let's dive in before the games begin!

Welcome to Miami

After what seemed like an obvious fit since Anderson was let go by the White Sox, the Marlins and Tim Anderson agreed to a one-year, $5 million contract, pending a physical, of course. Anderson is coming off a nightmare season, hitting just .245/.286/.296 across 524 plate appearances and connected with just one home run. While power has never been a massive part of his game, the power outage last season was quite unexpected. Over the last couple of seasons, Anderson has been bitten by the injury bug. He was hitting .298/.327/.404 in the first eleven games of the 2023 campaign before he sprained his left knee in a collision at third base, attempting to tag out Twins outfielder Matt Wallner. He was activated from the injured list about three weeks later and he never quite got back in a groove. The Marlins are hoping for a bounce-back season from the 30-year-old. Before the news of Anderson’s signing, the Marlins would likely start the season with Jon Berti at short, with Xavier Edwards, Jacob Amaya, and Vidal Bruján as potential backups. As Pete Campbell would say in Mad Men, “Not great, Bob!” It makes complete sense why the Fish would take the gamble here. There is no such thing as a bad one-year deal, especially when it is only for five million dollars. From a fantasy standpoint, Anderson should only be drafted in NL-only or draft-and-hold leagues. His last two seasons at the dish have been a major headscratcher, and he is probably best left on the waiver wire until we see him this season.


Mitch Keller agrees to an extension with Pittsburgh

On Thursday, it was announced that the Pirates and right-hander Mitch Keller agreed to a five-year, $77 million extension. Keller and the team had already agreed to a one-year, $5.44 million deal for the 2024 season, but this deal will keep him in Pittsburgh for at least the next four years. Keller was a second-round pick in 2024 and a longtime top prospect, not only in the Pirates organization but also in baseball at large. The now 27-year-old has been at the top of the Pirates rotation for the last two seasons, posting a 4.08 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, and 348/155 K/BB ratio over 353 ⅓ innings. Last season, it was a tale of two halves for Keller. He had a 3.31 ERA in the first half but hit quite a rough patch in the second, finishing with a 5.59 ERA. His home and road splits were even more divergent, posting a 2.90 ERA at home with an unpalatable 5.35 ERA on the road. He did, however, post a career-high 25.5 percent strikeout rate and career-low walk rate at 6.7 percent, so there were many things to like about Keller’s 2023 campaign. For fantasy managers this season, he easily fits on rosters as a number three or four starting pitcher. While he isn’t necessarily a forget-it guy, more often than not, he’ll pretty much be in your lineup for every start.


Kodai Senga to start season on injured list

Also, on Thursday, it was announced that Mets right-hander Kodai Senga will start the season on the injured list with a strained shoulder. It was revealed on Wednesday that the X-year-old was battling arm fatigue in camp, but he was diagnosed with a moderate posterior capsule strain in his right shoulder. The team is going to shut Senga down completely until the symptoms subside. With no firm timetable for his return, he is personally off my draft boards for the remainder of the draft season unless more encouraging news comes out closer to the start of the season. When asked if the team would be active on the trade or free agent market, president of baseball operations David Stearns said, “I don’t think so. We’re always going to be opportunistic and hear what’s out there, but I don’t think it really changes our thought process.” So it would appear that the top free agents like Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery won't be donning orange and blue next season.


Gio Urshela joins Tigers infield mix

Also on Thursday, the Tigers and Gio Urshela agreed to a one-year, $1.5 million contract, including incentives based on the number of plate appearances he has during the season. With the deal, Urshela will bring a veteran presence to a relatively young team, and he will likely slide into a platoon role with Matt Vierling, Zach McKinstry, and Andy Ibanez. The team also informed top prospect Jace Jung that he would not make the Opening Day roster, and Justyn-Henry Malloy will move off third to focus exclusively on the outfield. Urshela hit .299/.329/.374 across 214 plate appearances with the Angels, and his season ended in June after he fractured his pelvis. With the veteran unlikely to fill an everyday role with the Tigers, he remains undraftable in standard mixed leagues. Still, he could be an interesting late flier in a much deeper, draft-and-hold league as a depth option on the infield.