Money is no object. That’s the only conclusion I can draw from the Los Angeles Dodgers’ one year, $10 million (up to $14 million if he hits performance incentives) contract with Brett Anderson. Those performance incentives kick in at 150 innings pitched and Anderson will receive the full $4 million should he pitch 200 innings in 2015. This would seem an unlikely outcome, as Anderson has only pitched 206.1 innings in the last four seasons combined. Baseball’s most active team this offseason, the Dodgers add another pitcher to their already stacked roster. Anderson is a good pitcher when healthy, but that caveat applies to few pitchers as often as it does to him. Anderson made only eight starts this previous season, and is recovering from back surgery he underwent in August. Anderson has also missed time for other ailments, as well as undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2011. Additionally, he’s missed time with a broken finger, a broken foot, blistered fingers, and assorted ankle, elbow, and abdomen strains. He has only made more than 19 starts in a season once, his rookie season of 2009, when he started 30 games for the Oakland Athletics.
Where this move intrigues me more is that it’s a glimpse into the minds of General Manager Farhan Zaidi and President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman. At the winter meetings in San Diego, one of the many splashes the Dodgers made was the signing of Brandon McCarthy to a four-year, $48 million dollar agreement. McCarthy is one of the few players who can rival Anderson’s medical history, with Jason Parks once quipping on the dearly departed Up and In podcast that there were 32 bones in the human arm, and Brandon McCarthy was trying to injure them all by the time he retired. A four-year commitment for McCarthy seemed unusual, given his history, but it seems likely now that the Dodgers brain trust is willing to take shots, and take long-term shots, on guys with dubious injury histories. This is a luxury granted to the Dodgers brain trust that they did not enjoy in their previous locations, the penny-pinching Rays and A’s.
This leaves the Dodgers with what I have no trouble calling the best rotation in baseball, though I would have been willing to make that distinction before this signing. They are set to roll out Pitching God Clayton Kershaw on Opening Day, with Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu to follow. That spectacular top three should be followed by the duo of McCarthy and Anderson, provided Don Mattingly can cut them out of the bubble wrap the Dodgers will hope to keep them in until Opening Day. Last week’s moves combined with this one leave the Dodgers virtually hole-free in their lineup, with a strong middle infield, a good outfield, and good hitters up and down. The only real issue I see is depth and the bullpen, with Juan Nicasio as the nominal sixth starter right now. With two pitchers as injury prone as McCarthy and Anderson in your lineup, depth is a necessity, and top prospect Julio Urias is still a teenager and unlikely to pitch in the major leagues this year. The bullpen issues the Dodgers face should be minimal, as Kershaw, Greinke, and Ryu should pitch deep into games, averaging 7.1, 6.1, and 6 innings per start, respectively. That said, Brandon League and Brian Wilson are not the optimal solutions for bridging between those exceptional starters and Kenley Jansen, who is one of the more solid closers in baseball.Next post: Rookies Unrated: Tales of Vintage Prospects – Mike Harkey
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