The A’s picked up Brett Anderson’s $8 million option Friday, but that doesn’t mean their offseason maneuverings with the left-hander are done.
Anderson may be the most perplexing player on Oakland’s roster. He’s a source of frustration among fans because of the injuries that have limited him to 24 starts combined over the last three seasons. Yet we’ve also seen flashes of brilliance – the two-hitter he fired at Fenway Park as a rookie in 2009; the six shutout innings he threw against Detroit in the 2012 AL Divisional Series.
Those contrasting factors are why Anderson’s name is guaranteed to surface in trade rumors over the next couple of months. The A’s appear to have enough starting pitching, particularly if they re-sign Bartolo Colon, to deal Anderson in an effort to fill other needs. And you can’t blame them if they are beginning to doubt if Anderson will ever put together a full, healthy season.
Other teams will be wary of his injury history. But they’ll also see a lefty who has shown he can dominate with an array of pitches and is still just 25 years old. If Anderson made 25-30 starts next season and pitched to his potential, that $8 million salary starts looking a lot more team-friendly. Whichever team he’s pitching for also will hold a 2015 club option at $12 million, avoiding what would otherwise be his first year of free agency.
The Toronto Blue Jays, known to have been after him in 2012, reportedly have the lefty on their radar again.
Anderson doesn’t keep close tabs on the trade gossip but says his friends keep him updated. And no one is more frustrated by his injury problems than the pitcher himself. He overcame a huge obstacle in 2012 by returning from reconstructive elbow surgery, only to be sidelined four months this past season by a stress fracture of his right foot and sprained right ankle.
“You think you’re healthy, and to have a deal like last year with my foot is pretty frustrating,” Anderson said Friday. “When I’ve been healthy, I’ve been pretty successful in the big leagues. If I can stay healthy, I like the pitcher I am. And I think I can produce good results.”
Aside from exercising Anderson’s option, the A’s as expected picked up center fielder Coco Crisp’s $7.5 million option for 2014. They declined an $11 million option on outfielder Chris Young and an $8.5 million option on catcher Kurt Suzuki.
By Monday at 2 p.m., the A’s must decide whether to extend a $14.1 million qualifying offer to Colon, though it’s possible they could pass on that and still try to sign him later in the winter. Whether he returns could impact what the A’s do with Anderson.
Think it’s an easy call for Oakland to try unloading him?
This is a team that chooses carefully who it invests long-term money in. Back in April 2010, the A’s gave Anderson a four-year $12.5 million, with two club options tacked on to potentially keep him in green and gold through the 2015 season.
To this point, it’s fair to say A’s officials haven’t gotten the return on their investment they anticipated. But the thought of Anderson being dealt and then flourishing in a different uniform can’t be a pleasant one.
We’ll know as the winter months tick away whether Anderson fits in the A’s plans for 2014. He pitched out of the bullpen upon his return from his foot injury in August. In a season-ending media session, both general manager Billy Beane and manager Bob Melvin said they envision Anderson moving back into a starting role.
But, as Anderson knows, lots can happen between now and the start of spring training in mid-February.
“I could be (traded) tomorrow or I could be an ‘A’ for the rest of my career,” he said. “I’m an Oakland ‘A’ and I plan to be an Oakland ‘A’ and help them win ballgames until somebody tells me otherwise.”