Posted on November 4, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Toronto Blue Jays are wasting little time in getting their offseason started. On Monday, the club pulled off a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers for starting pitcher Chase Anderson. In exchange, the Brewers will receive minor league Chad Spanberger, a first baseman and right fielder who spent last season in double-A.
Anderson has options for both the 2020 and 2021 season remaining on his contract and the Brewers had until Monday to decide whether to exercise the $8.5 million option for next season. Rather than declining the option and getting nothing in return, Milwaukee was able to ship Anderson to Toronto and get something in return.
The 31-year-old Anderson has been a consistent and reliable part of Milwaukee’s rotation for the last four seasons. He was at his best in 2017 when he went 12-4 with a 2.74 ERA over 25 starts. However, he came back down to earth this past season. Anderson actually began the season in the bullpen and then missed time in May, ultimately pitching to a 4.21 ERA over 27 starts and five relief appearances. Despite a strong September during Milwaukee’s playoff push, the Brewers will go in another direction with their rotation.
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Of course, a pitcher with Anderson’s durability and consistency is exactly what the Blue Jays need. After trading away both Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez last summer, Toronto’s rotation has multiple vacancies and is lacking in proven major league pitchers. Anderson has made at least 25 starts in five straight seasons, making him someone the Blue Jays can rely on to take the ball every five days and add some stability to their rotation.
In addition to Anderson, the Blue Jays are hopeful that injury-prone Matt Shoemaker can return from tearing his ACL last April and give them another veteran in their rotation alongside Anderson. While neither is necessarily an ace, both Anderson and Shoemaker are at least mid-rotation starters. Shoemaker, in fact, was 3-0 with a 1.57 ERA over five starts this year until getting hurt.
Outside of Anderson and Shoemaker, the Blue Jays are banking on some of their young starters being able to fill out their rotation. Trent Thornton is one likely holdover after making 29 starts for Toronto in 2019. Ryan Borucki had a promising 2018 season but only made two starts this year before requiring surgery for bone spurs in his elbow that kept him sidelined the rest of the season. Youngsters Jacob, Waguespack, Anthony Kay, and T.J. Zeuch all saw action in the majors this season.
Of course, the Blue Jays can’t assume that all of their young starters will be able to establish themselves. The likes of Kay and Zeuch could need more seasoning in the minors. Plus, Shoemaker and Borucki are coming back from long-term injuries, so neither is a sure-thing at this point. Toronto’s rotation may have some potential in 2020, but it also has plenty of question marks.
That being said, the Blue Jays probably aren’t done addressing their rotation this winter. The club has money to spend and could end up spending some of it on a starter or two. In the meantime, acquiring Anderson is a good start. The Blue Jays probably don’t want him to be their ace on opening day. But if he ends up being the team’s no. 3 starter, giving the Blue Jays some stability and a veteran presence in the middle of their rotation, this could end up being a great trade for Toronto.