Oakland Athletics May Not Be Done With Pitching Moves


Oft-injured left-hander Brett Anderson could be a bargain pickup at $8 million and a $12 million club option for 2015. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

After picking up a closer in Jim Johnson and a solid setup man in Luke Gregerson, along with a left-handed starter in Scott Kazmir, Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane may not be done yet with his makeover of the pitching staff.

ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reported via Twitter that the A’s are in discussions with several teams regarding lefty Brett Anderson.

Olney is right about the price–$8 million would be a small amount to pay for a guy who has had great stuff when he’s healthy. And that’s the issue. Since bursting onto the scene with a solid 2009 rookie campaign, Anderson hasn’t stayed healthy. He worked 112.1 innings in 2010 and just 83.1 in 2011 before he was shelved by an elbow injury that ultimately required Tommy John surgery to repair. He came back late in 2012 and pitched 35 innings and because of a variety of ailments in 2013 was limited to 44.2 frames. Perhaps $8 million isn’t such a small amount to pay for a starting pitcher who has worked just 79.2 innings over the last two seasons. Anderson’s contract also includes a $12 million club option for 2015. Anderson will be 26 before spring training begins and the big Texan certainly has value. He’s got good stuff, doesn’t walk a lot of guys (45 walks and 150 strikeouts in 175.1 innings in his one full season in 2009) and has a club-friendly deal. Meanwhile, Beane didn’t discount the idea of bringing back right-hander Bartolo Colon in 2014. According to 95.7 The Game via Twitter:

Bartolo Colon delivered the A’s 54 starts and 342.2 innings over the last two seasons. But can a guy turning 41 in May have enough left to take an expensive gamble on? Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Colon was fantastic in 2013, going 18-6 with a 2.65 ERA—the best of his 16-year career—and a 1.166 WHIP, a mark he has bested just once in his career—a 1.159 WHIP he put up with the Angels in 2005 when he was the American League Cy Young Award.

But Colon is also 40 years old, three years removed from spending a year away from the game and then there was that whole Biogenesis thing, for which he was suspended in 2012.

At the right price, Colon would be a reasonable risk, bearing in mind he’ll be 41 at the end of May. He made $3 million last season and after winning 18 games and posting some of the best metrics of his career, however, he’s looking for a lot more.

Oakland opted not to extend him the one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer, which doesn’t close the door on him returning, it just means the A’s won’t acquire an extra draft choice in the first round if he goes somewhere else.

Such is the gamble of the qualifying offer—extend it and there’s a chance the guy will accept it, if he and his agent don’t believe he can do any better on the open market.

Don’t extend it and run the risk of losing Colon for nothing.

On the other hand, he’s given the A’s 54 starts, 28 wins and 342.2 innings at the ages of 39 and 40, again, well after his career was thought to be dead after he didn’t play in 2010.

That sounds like playing with house money. And if the price is right (say, not more than $5 million), Colon might not be a bad gamble for 2014.

Any more than that, though, and the age old rule might rear its ugly head.

That rule, of course: Eventually, the house always wins.