Outside of being guys who throw the ball from the mound, and outside of being mentioned in the same interesting Gordon Wittenmyer piece, there’s no real connection between the two guys in the headline there. To be sure, Wittenmyer mentions many other offseason possibilities for the Cubs – and notes the potential for bidding on Jon Lester and Russell Martin to get out of hand – but I couldn’t help myself but zero in on the mentions of Brett Anderson and David Robertson. It’s not even like they’re my favorite free agents out there for the Cubs. I just find them interesting.
On Anderson, whom the Rockies turned loose rather than pick up a $12.5 million option, Wittenmyer says the Cubs have him “on the radar” as a potential buy-low, good-upside target. If you’ll forgive my insistence, I’ve been talking about Anderson as an interesting option since early September because I find his situation so intriguing. You’ve got a guy who is now coming off of back surgery, who hasn’t pitched more than 112.1 big league innings in a season since 2009. He’s totaled just 123 big league innings in the last three season combined. Right now, fair or unfair, he’s synonymous with injury.
But Anderson is also quite good (career: 3.73 ERA, 3.51 FIP, 3.52 xFIP). The injuries have basically been unrelated, have been fairly flukey, and, outside of a 2011 Tommy John surgery from which he’s long recovered, haven’t been related to his arm. And Anderson is just 26.
The Cubs won’t be alone in having Anderson on the radar, because everyone is going to want to be the team that captures that upside. If you could get him on a one-year, $6 million deal with a team option for 2016 at, say, $10 million with a $2 million buyout (that’s me trying to make it realistic, because he’s not going to give up that option year without it coming at a decent price and with a decent buyout attached), I think you’d have to do it with a smile. That’s an $8 million roll of the dice that could wind up providing you an excellent starter for two years and just $16 million.
The issue for the Cubs is, eventually, going to be an overflow of pitching. Unless they view Anderson as the “second solid starter” they pick up this offseason behind a top tier guy – and could you really trust Anderson to be that guy? – then you’re talking about adding three pitchers, including Anderson, to a group that already includes Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks, Travis Wood, Tsuyoshi Wada, Edwin Jackson, Jacob Turner, Felix Doubront, Dan Straily, Eric Jokisch, Dallas Beeler … and I could actually keep going. Many of those guys you’d be OK with displacing for a healthy Anderson, and some of those guys won’t be around come March anyway. So it’s not a big issue. I’m just pointing out the consideration when spending money and putting together a roster.
And now to completely change gears and look quickly at Robertson, who’s been discussed multiple times this week, including yesterday, when a report out of New York had the Cubs as a possible suitor for the Yankees’ closer. My conclusion then: it’s hard to see the Cubs spending a ton of money on a late-inning reliever at this juncture, but, hey, maybe if he gets a qualifying offer and then his market falls apart.
Robertson did get that qualifying offer, and Wittenmyer says the Cubs will “kick the tires” on Robertson. I think that sounds about right, and aligns with the way I’m thinking: if his market falls apart and the Cubs, by the time they’d be looking to sign him, would stand to lose only a third or fourth round pick? Well, sure, maybe you consider a two-year, $20 million deal or three-year, $24 million. Something like that. I really don’t think his market will fall that far, however, and I suspect we’ll see Robertson fall off of the radar long before Anderson.
Not that the two really have too much to do with either other, outside of the fact that, for some reason, I really like to talk about them lately.