In a surprise move in a surprise offseason, the Dodgers have reportedly signed Brett Anderson to a one-year, $10 million contract, per Buster Olney of ESPN and confirmed by Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, with an additional $4 million in incentives.
The deal hasn't been announced by the team, which is understandable because no physical exam of Anderson begun after the World Series could have possibly been completed by now.
The Dodgers beat out the Yankees, Braves and Royals for Anderson, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo, who reported that Anderson's incentives start at 150 innings pitched, a number Anderson reached once. In 2009. The incentives will max out at 200 innings, per Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.
Anderson put up a 2.91 ERA in eight starts for the Rockies in 2014, with 29 strikeouts and 13 walks in 43⅓ innings. He had his $12 million 2015 club option declined on Nov. 1, with the club instead paying him a $1.5 million buyout.
When he has pitched, Anderson has been effective, with a 3.73 ERA, a 112 ERA+ in parts of six major league seasons, plus a 3.51 FIP and 3.52 xFIP in 494 innings, with an extreme ground ball rate of 55.4 percent, including 61 percent in 2014. Among the 421 major league pitchers to throw at least 100 innings from 2012-2014, Anderson's 61.4-percent ground ball rate during that span ranks eighth-highest.
But the problem has been staying on the field for Anderson, who has been a walking injury history.
In 2010 he missed 30 games on the disabled list with a flexor strain in his left elbow, then after one start missed another 46 games with left elbow inflammation. He had Tommy John surgery in June 2011 that knocked him out for the rest of that season and all of 2012. Then he missed 104 games with a stress fracture in his right foot in 2013.
Traded by the Athletics to the Rockies in 2014, Anderson spent two different stints on the 60-day disabled list, once for a broken finger suffered on a hit by pitch, then for a bulging disk in his left back.
In September, Anderson discussed his lengthy injury history with Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post:
"If you look at my track record, obviously it’s a little bit warranted," Anderson answered when asked about the label that he’s injury prone. "But at the same time, it’s been a lot of different things, different injuries. It’s not just the same thing with my arm, over and over.
"So I like to think that all of that is behind me, and now I’ll be the pitcher I think I’m capable of being."
Anderson was once one of the top prospects in baseball coming up through the A's system, peaking at No. 7 prior to 2009 by Baseball America. Amazingly, he is still just 26 years old, and will turn 27 in February.
But now, he has averaged just 64 innings per season over the last five years and hasn't topped 83⅓ innings in any one year since 2010. It is rather remarkable that Anderson got $10 million as a free agent given his injury history, though if there is anyone who knows that history it is general manager Farhan Zaidi, who was in Oakland's front office for all but one year of Anderson's professional career.
At $10 million and for only one year, this is a risk the Dodgers can certainly afford. But given Anderson's injury history, it's hard to say the fifth spot in the starting rotation is now taken care of.
It was Anderson on Friday who first planted the idea in his former A's and new Dodgers teammate Brandon McCarthy to photoshop himself into a Dodgers uniform for his Twitter avatar.
@BMcCarthy32 I'm going to need you to personally attempt to photoshop yourself in a Dodger uniform.
— Brett Anderson (@BAnderson_30) December 12, 2014