Brewers: Should Crew Re-Sign Free Agent LHP Brett Anderson?

Brett Anderson, Milwaukee Brewers Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Brett Anderson, Milwaukee Brewers Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /

Brewers starting pitcher Brett Anderson officially became a free agent today. Should the team consider bringing him back for 2021?

When the Brewers general manager David Stearns went shopping last offseason, he brought in a handful of new players on a variety of different types of contracts. Just one of them, though, was signed to a straight one-year deal with no option.

Starting pitcher Brett Anderson was brought to Milwaukee on a one-year $5MM contract with incentives. Having started 30 games in 2019 for the first time in four seasons, the deal was a way for Anderson to prove that he could continue to stay healthy.

With the World Series having ended yesterday after the Los Angeles Dodgers’ game six victory over the Tampa Bay Rays, today means players like Anderson are officially back out on the market. The list of players now eligible for free agency was announced earlier today by the MLBPA.

The Brewers now have five days of exclusive negotiating rights with Anderson, though they aren’t required to make a deal in that time if they want to bring him back. Regardless of when a deal would be reached, would it make sense to give Anderson another run in a Milwaukee uniform?

If the Brewers want to spend some of their limited payroll on a starter, Anderson could make sense to bring back on a similar deal.

We mentioned in an article a few weeks ago that it’s entirely possible that the Brewers could attempt to craft a starting rotation internally without dipping into the free agent pool or making a trade. But if Milwaukee does want to add to the rotation this offseason, revisiting Anderson wouldn’t be a bad idea.

It is worth mentioning that since he accepted a qualifying offer from the Dodgers back in 2015, Anderson is ineligible to receive one from the Brewers this offseason (not that there’s any way they would have offered him a whopping $18.9MM contract anyway).

So when it comes to your run-of-the-mill contract offer, there are two things to ask with Anderson. Does his performance and/or durability warrant an offer and would a contract be affordable to the Brewers?

Performance-wise, Anderson was average in 2020. He finished the season 4-4 with a 4.21 ERA and a 1.277 WHIP. That said, Anderson gave up two earned runs or less in eight of his ten starts in 2020, so stacking up some more of those outings over a larger sample size may have seen that ERA drop.

Anderson did unfortunately see a familiar blister issue creep up twice in 2020, which resulted in some missed time and one IL stint. Still, his 10 games started tied for third most on the team so it wasn’t nearly as bad as some of his injury issues from previous seasons.

So that brings it down to the price tag. His numbers from last season plus the fact that he is entering his age 33 season next year should mean that he would be attainable close to his $5MM price tag from 2020. That would put him near the Brewers’ level of affordability.

While I wouldn’t be opposed to bringing Anderson back for 2021, I would wait to make that move if I were the Brewers. We already know that payroll is going to be tight and that there are a number of more pressing needs to address on offense. Take care of those first, then see if a reunion with Anderson is in the cards.

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Considering what they paid for him, the return the Brewers got from Anderson wasn’t too shabby in 2020. It may equal a return to Milwaukee in 2021 if there is enough money remaining to make it happen.