Anderson, Brewers agree to one-year deal

December 16th, 2019

MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers added another piece to their starting rotation on Friday with a one-year deal for , the veteran left-hander who is coming off a healthy and solid season with the A's.

Anderson, who turns 32 in February, joins 32-year-old Josh Lindblom as experienced adds this week to a rotation that started with three young arms in Brandon Woodruff, Adrian Houser and pre-Thanksgiving acquisition Eric Lauer, plus candidates like Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta, whose roles remain to be determined.

Anderson will earn $5 million, with a chance to make $2 million more in incentives, ESPN's Buster Olney reported. Lindblom's three-year deal will probably be announced early next week, and it reportedly averages a little more than $3 million per season. That duo essentially replaces Chase Anderson and Zach Davies, who were traded last month in moves that freed up approximately $13 million in 2020 payroll to put toward team needs.

Expect Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns to keep adding; he said during the Winter Meetings that Milwaukee is preparing to have 8-10 pitchers make a meaningful number of starts in 2020. That's based on history. Between nine and 11 pitchers have made multiple starts for the Brewers in each of Stearns' first four seasons as GM.

"I think we're making progress," Stearns said. "We're never going to close the door on increasing our depth and increasing our options, but we do think we're making progress toward filling out a starting rotation that's going to be very competitive."

For Anderson, success is often tied to his health, and he was healthy in 2019 on the way to 31 starts and 176 innings for Oakland -- an innings total that would have led the '19 Brewers. He went 13-9 with a 3.89 ERA while keeping the ball on the ground as usual; among MLB's 61 qualifying pitchers, only the Cardinals' Dakota Hudson and the Reds' Luis Castillo had higher ground-ball rates than Anderson's 54.5 percent.

It marked the third time in parts of 11 Major League seasons that Anderson reached 30 starts, and the first time since 2015 with the Dodgers. He underwent Tommy John surgery in '11, back surgery in '14 and '16, and had stints on the injured list for forearm and shoulder strains in '18 with Oakland before avoiding the IL in '19.

The key, Anderson said, was core work.

"I think I have a set of abs underneath a layer or two. It doesn't really show, but I think they're down there somewhere," Anderson said. "It's a bunch of monotonous core work that nobody likes to do, but it's definitely necessary to keep my back healthy. That's been the biggest thing -- getting in a routine and knowing what works and what doesn't, and being able to stick to that."

Anderson also tweaked his style, throwing more cutters in on the hands of right-handed hitters to prevent them from leaning out over the plate for his fastball and slider. That proved a useful pitch, though Anderson called it a work in progress.

"I took my career in reverse," Anderson said. "I pitch now like people did 10 years ago, and I pitched 10 years ago like people do now. I threw hard and had a hard breaking ball and could pitch at the top of the zone. I tell people it's 'adapt or die.' I don't throw 96-97 [mph] anymore, and my slider is not as sharp as it was. But I found a way to have some success and keep the ball on the ground.

"Sure, I would like to strike out more people, and I think that's possible with more experience and trusting my stuff. But I'm going to try to keep doing what I've been doing -- keep the ball on the ground, work fast, get quick outs, be efficient and give the team a chance to win. Staying healthy is the biggest issue and concern, but I had a good, healthy year last year. I hope that continues with the Brewers."

So do the Brewers. As with any free-agent signing, Anderson underwent an extensive physical exam before the contract was finalized on Friday.

"Any time a player has missed time because of an injury like Brett has over the course of his career, there's going to be an increased emphasis placed on that," Stearns said. "But we are comfortable, based on durability last year when he logged over 175 innings and made over 30 starts, that we have a player who is capable of making a similar output for us moving forward."