Normally when you hear that a player signs with a team “pending a physical” those words are just filler to get the writer at his or her word count. In the case of the Cubs signing Brett Anderson to a guaranteed $3.5MM deal, the physical might be the most important part.
Anderson made only four starts last year before needing back surgery. That was his second back surgery in a career that’s been riddled with injuries. Anderson has also missed significant time in the past because of elbow issues that eventually led to Tommy John surgery. Nope, not done yet. He’s also broken bones in both his throwing hand and his foot. It’s actually amazing that he’s even still playing, as he’ll be entering his eighth season in the Bigs this year.
At one point, Anderson was just another above average pitcher in Oakland that didn’t draw enough national attention because of where he played. Five years with the Athletics earned him a 3.81 ERA and a 5.5 WAR, very decent numbers if he’s a fourth or fifth starter for a contender. In 2015 he posted the most starts (31) since his rookie campaign and went 10-9 with a 3.69 ERA for the Dodgers. However, last year his ERA tickled 12.00 and required that back surgery only three starts in.
It’s unlikely the Cubs are paying for Anderson to rely on him as a fifth starter. The scenario that makes the most sense is for him to flip between the bullpen and the rotation at different points of the season, constantly battling with Mike Montgomery for larger roles with the club. Anderson has only pitched one game out of the bullpen in his career, but likely knows a rotation spot is not going to be given to him when the club makes the trip to Mesa.
Some other notes of great importance…last time I checked he’s kind of chubby and has a fantastic red beard that rivals Tormund Giantsbane from Game of Thrones. He’s also a funny follow on Twitter.