Anderson dealt to Jays for Minors first baseman

November 4th, 2019

MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers traded right-hander to the Blue Jays on Monday for Double-A first baseman Chad Spanberger, ahead of the deadline to decide on Anderson’s $8.5 million club option for 2020.

Anderson, 31, went 8-4 with a 4.21 ERA in 139 innings in 2019 for the Brewers, who intended to decline his option and proceed toward arbitration with him instead. The Blue Jays picked up the option and are getting two years of club control; Anderson has another club option in his contract for '21 at $9.5 million, with a $500,000 buyout.

“I figured that something was in the works because this was the last day for the option to be picked up or declined, and it took until the last day,” Anderson said. “But I’m excited about it.”

Spanberger, 24, is a left-handed hitter with tremendous raw power who is still finding his footing in professional baseball. He was a sixth-round Draft pick of the Rockies in 2017 and is a .274/.340/.501 hitter with 59 homers and 200 RBIs in 305 games spanning three Minor League seasons. He had a disappointing '19 at Double-A New Hampshire, where Spanberger hit .237 with 13 homers and 59 RBIs while playing home games at a stadium with a short porch in right field that favors left-handed hitters.

If Spanberger is able to turn his promising exit velocity into results, he has a chance to move quickly in the organization as the Brewers are relatively thin at first base in their system. Two fixtures of MLB Pipeline’s recent Top 30 prospects lists, Lucas Erceg and Jake Gatewood, have moved between third base and first base.

Monday marked the second trade for both Anderson and Spanberger. Anderson was dealt from the D-backs to the Brewers in January 2016 with Isan Díaz and Aaron Hill for shortstop Jean Segura and pitching prospect Tyler Wagner in one of president of baseball operations David Stearns’ first big moves in Milwaukee. Spanberger was part of a trade in July '18 between the Rockies and Blue Jays for reliever Seunghwan Oh.

“He has big power,” Stearns said of Spanberger. “He has demonstrated that throughout his Minor League career. Even last year, when maybe the home run numbers weren’t quite what they were the previous year, he still hit the ball hard. He hits the ball in the air. Those are two things we like to see and two things we think will lead to power. We think he fills in nicely in the upper levels of our Minor League system.”

In four seasons with the Brewers, Anderson compiled a 38-27 record with a 3.83 ERA in 590 innings, mostly as a starting pitcher and often employed twice through an opponents’ order before a call to the bullpen. His finest season was in 2017, when Anderson honed a curveball and found extra velocity on his fastball to go 12-4 with a 2.74 ERA, earning a contract extension plus a start on Opening Day '18. But he wasn’t able to replicate that level of success; he went on to allow a National League-leading 30 home runs, and in '19, he began the year in the bullpen before he was needed again in the starting rotation.

“I think it is a fresh start, no doubt about it,” Anderson said. “But if you look at my overall numbers and what I provided to the Brewers as a starter and a little bit as a reliever, my numbers were pretty solid. Actually, really good. You look at my four years, under a 4.00 ERA. My batting average against hitters was really low. My WHIP [1.23] is really good. I’m not a strikeout pitcher, but my strikeouts per nine [7.7] was pretty good. I feel like there were a lot of games I could have gone deeper into games, and with more innings my ERA would have come down a little bit. …

“Milwaukee will always be a special place because we appeared in the postseason twice out of my four years there, and almost three times. We almost did it in ’17. I feel like I provided a lot of value to that team and did my part.”

Now Anderson will try to add value to a new team, one that finds itself in a position not dissimilar to where Milwaukee stood when Anderson arrived in 2016.

“You look through that roster, they’ve got some guys there,” Anderson said. “They’ve got Cavan Biggio, Vlad [Guerrero] Jr., Bo Bichette, a good catcher in [Wisconsin native Danny] Jansen. That’s just to name a few of their good prospects. It’s a fun young team, and I think we’re going to have a really good team over there in Toronto.”