Reports have been coming out about the Toronto Blue Jays making an early move to acquire some badly needed starting pitching for the 2020 season. While it hasn’t been confirmed by the club, the Blue Jays are said to have traded for starter Chase Anderson from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for Chad Spanberger, a minor league first baseman and corner outfielder.
Anderson, who will turn 32 at the end of the month, has spent most of the last six seasons pitching in the National League, breaking in with Arizona in 2014 with a solid rookie campaign in tough conditions for a pitcher. He had a 4.18 ERA and 1.33 WHIP over 267 innings in two seasons with the Diamondbacks, striking out 216 batters and walking 80 before he was traded to Milwaukee in a big deal that involved former Blue Jay Aaron Hill and infielder Jean Segura.
Pitching over the past four years with Milwaukee, he has put together 8.2 WAR (as per Baseball Reference, but just 5.1 WAR if you look at Fangraphs) with a 3.83 ERA and 1.23 WHIP, striking out 505 and walking 201 in 590 innings. Anderson is somewhat prone to giving up home runs, allowing 1.4 HR/9 innings and leading the National League, allowing 30 in 2018. Anderson has averaged close to 93 mph on his fastball and sinker but that ticked up a bit, averaging 93.58 mph on the four-seam fastball while throwing an 82.85 mph changeup as his principal offspeed pitch, adding a curve, a cutter and sinker (courtesy of Brooks Baseball).
Anderson has two option years on his contract that the Blue Jays will have to choose to exercise today. The first, for 2020, is valued at $8.5 million while the second, for 2021, is valued at $9.5 million, giving the Blue Jays potentially good value for a pitcher who, historically, has thrown about 150 innings per year. While he’s not “the” answer on the mound, he is another bridge to guys who could be.
In exchange, the Blue Jays are sending minor leaguer Chad Spanberger, a slugger who played mostly right field for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats in 2019 although he’s come up as a first baseman and can play left field as well. But most of Spanberger’s value is going to be with the bat as he attracked the Blue Jays’ attention in the first place with a prodigious number of home runs in 2017 and 2018 after being drafted by the Colorado Rockies. He hit 20 home runs for Arkansas in the SEC in his junior year in college and followed it up with 19 more in Advanced-Rookie Grand Junction in just 60 games.
Spanberger hit another 20 home runs in at the beginning of 2018, playing for the Asheville Tourists in the Class-A South Atlantic League in 92 games before he was traded to the Blue Jays as part of the deal that sent Seunghwan Oh to Colorado for Spanberger, Forrest Wall and Bryan Baker. Spanberger then hit another two home runs with Lansing and three with Dunedin in 31 games before the 2018 season ended.
I saw Spanberger in spring training and didn’t see much (running around between diamonds) but I did watch him hit a monster home run to the parking lot, I think at the Phillies’ complex. He reported to Double-A New Hampshire in 2019 and had a rather disappointing season, hitting .237/.308/.399 with 29 doubles, a triple and 13 home runs, seeing his strikeout rate climb to 24.4% although he walked in a decent 9.0% of his plate appearances.
Still, Spanberger had a strong August, hitting .337/.396/.530 with five doubles, a triple and three home runs, allowing us to wonder what could be for this young slugger.
What do you think? Did the Jays get a good deal adding Anderson?
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