By Jason Shetler
It’s been pretty well-documented that the Pirates will need to address their starting rotation this offseason. Outside of Ivan Nova, the Pirates have been linked to a couple of free agents. One is former Texas Rangers starter Derek Holland, while the other is a familiar name in Edinson Volquez, who pitched for the Bucs in 2014, and the Kansas City Royals the past two seasons. Looking at the free agent list, another name who the Pirates could consider is Brett Anderson.
Anderson is one of the best groundball pitchers on the free agent market this offseason, as he’s put up a groundball rate of 50% or better in each of his eight big league seasons (career 58% rate). He also doesn’t walk many batters, posting a 2.4 BB/9, while keeping the ball in the yard with a HR/9 of 0.8. Anderson’s career ERA is 3.86 along with a 3.70 FIP and a 3.55 xFIP.
While the numbers are pretty good for Anderson, the injury bug has bit him quite hard during his career. In his eight seasons, he’s only made 30 or more starts twice. Anderson pitched in just four games for the Los Angeles Dodgers this year, as he was recovering from back surgery.
Pirates GM Neal Huntington prefers having starting pitchers who can induce plenty of groundballs, as well as get hitters to make weak contact, and Anderson certainly fits that description. As it stands currently, the rotation is right-handed heavy with Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Chad Kuhl and perhaps Tyler Glasnow, so adding a lefty would make sense. The Houston Astros recently signed Charlie Morton to a two-year deal, which surprised many, given Morton’s injury history. The question becomes would a team offer Anderson a two-year deal based on his decent success despite injuries? – If I’m the Pirates, I wouldn’t consider offering that. However, if Anderson is willing to take a one-year offer, then I think the Pirates should have definite interest in trying to sign him. Although there would be some risk involved, I think it does present potential reward as well.