Settle down, everyone. It's been an exciting 24 hours, with more free agents of dubious quality flooding the market after Monday's non-tender arbitration deadline. And yet, we as Astros fans still have very little to talk about.
So, I'm going to talk about the starting pitching market. I've already seen people start to panic on Twitter and in the comments about the number of starters off the market. The price is sky-high, you say and there are not enough guys left to fill the void. It may be impossible for Houston to fill that void.
Well, let's attack that problem from a trade angle. Remember when we discussed the David Price trade over and over again? It was because it's much easier to get a player to Houston via trade than via free agency.
Turns out, there's a non-Priceian player on the market. Oakland signed Scott Kazmir to a two-year deal on Monday and may not have room for lefty Brett Anderson any more. They've already been linked to the Indians and Mariners in trade talks, so lets see how much of a chance the Astros have.
Who is Brett Anderson? Well, for starter's, he's only 25. Though Anderson is in his fifth season in the league, he started out very young. He's also signed to a rather large contract that will pay him $8 million in 2014 and $12.5 million as part of a team option in 2015.
In 2010, Anderson threw 112 innings for the Athletics with 6 Ks/9 and 1.76 BB/9, a 2.80 ERA and a 54.6 percent ground ball rate. His ERA jumped in 2011 in 83 innings before losing the rest of the season and most of 2012 to Tommy John surgery.
Anderson came back briefly in 2012 and showed his 2010 form in 35 innings but missed most of 2013 with a foot injury. When he was pitching in 44 innings, he wasn't nearly as good as in the past, though his peripherals were very strong.
The Trade Market
The Doug Fister trade sets the price for big-ticket pitchers. Fister has been one of the more underrated pitchers in the majors for a couple of years now, but still only fetched a modest return for the Tigers. Similarly, Jim Johnson netted Baltimore just Jemile Weeks in a trade to Oakland on Monday, which is a very small return even for an overpriced reliever.
With Price still floating out on the market, Anderson should be marketed as a cheaper alternative, but also could have less of a market given his price tag and injury history.
The Free Agent Market
Still, $20 million for a starter with Anderson's upside is a pretty good deal on this market. Consider that Phil Hughes got considerably more than that on a three-year deal from the Twins and that Kazmir signed for more than that with Oakland.
The free agent cost of a starter right now is just high. But, the market isn't finished. There are still bargains to be had as plenty of players will sign late in the process. What if Ubaldo Jimenez only gets a one-year, $8 million deal in February? It's unlikely, but with his compensation price, it's not outlandish.
Anderson will get moved sooner rather than later, as teams grow desperate at that dwindling market. That helps the A's in a deal but doesn't necessarily help the Astros.
A possible deal
So, what would it take to get Anderson? It all depends on the market. After what Johnson went for, I still contend that a package for Anderson could be built around Brandon Barnes. He's shown he's a major leaguer with elite defense and the A's are the kind of playoff team on which Barnes could make a difference in 2014 and 2015.
Package him with Carlos Perez and Nick Tropeano or any other mid-level pitcher. Maybe it's Luis Cruz, maybe it's Jake Buchanan. Would that top the offers from other teams? Heck, that might top the offer that Detroit got for Fister.
But, this is Billy Beane we're dealing with. He'll ask for more and might get it from the Mariners. That means the chances for an Astros move here are small.
Still, Anderson is an intriguing target. What do you think will get a deal done? Would you want to take a chance on his injury history for 2014 and beyond? Isn't he exactly the kind of player to spend some of that prospect depth on?
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