The Oakland Athletics are exploring their possibilities in trading away starting pitcher Brett Anderson, reports Buster Olney of ESPN. The Mariners and Indians are mentioned as being interested in the right-hander.
The Athletics are fresh off signing Scott Kazmir to a two-year deal that will assure him a spot in the team's rotation. Oakland also dealt for a new closer in Jim Johnson. The Kazmir contract is particularly pertinent to Anderson trade rumors as he gives the team seven viable starting pitchers heading into 2014. While starting pitching depth is always welcome, Anderson and his $8 million contract is a luxury Oakland may not be willing to afford.
Currently, Oakland's rotation is comprised of Kazmir, Jarrod Parker, Sonny Gray, A.J. Griffin and Dan Straily, with both Anderson and Tommy Milone also being options. The Athletics also have shown some interest in bringing back Bartolo Colon on a short-term deal.
All-in-all, that leaves Anderson available in a trade to a team looking to bolster their pitching staff. Anderson held his own as a rookie in 2009, but broke out with a 2.80 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 19 starts the next year. Over a five-year career, he has a 3.81 ERA and 1.28 WHIP. Though he does not post monster strikeout numbers, he commands his pitches well and is very good at inducing ground balls.
Over his brief career, Anderson has shown just how valuable pitching depth can be: Since 2011 he has made just 24 starts and 11 relief appearances due to a number of injuries. He underwent Tommy John surgery mid-2011 and returned late in 2012. After a few starts, an oblique strain cost him what was left of that season. Anderson was Oakland's opening day starter in 2013, but made just six starts before a stress fracture in his foot cost him nearly four months. He returned at the end of August and worked out of the bullpen for the remainder of the season.
Still just 25 years old, Anderson may still have his best years ahead of him. There are some rookies who don't come up until they are his age and he has years of experience under his hat already. While his injury history is concerning, most of his ailments are not the kind that will linger moving forward.
The Mariners and Indians are both looking to bolster their rotations. Seattle may be more of a long-shot given they play in the same division as Oakland, but interdivisional trades are not entirely rare and the Mariners have a strong farm system they could use in a trade. The Indians, meanwhile, lost Kazmir to Oakland in free agency and could be on the verge of losing Ubaldo Jimenez as well. Cleveland finished just one game short of the Tigers for the AL Central crown in 2013 and are hoping to compete once again next year.
There are plenty of other teams who could also look into what it would cost to acquire Anderson. He has one more year worth $8 million on a contract signed with the Athletics, but also has a team option worth $12 million for 2015 that could be exercised if he performs well next season.