Brewers to sign Brian Anderson

Brewers to sign Brian Anderson

The Brewers agree to a deal with the free agent third baseman/corner outfielder Brian AndersonThe Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports (Link to Twitter). The deal is pending a physical. Anderson is a client of CAA Sports.

Anderson, 30 in May, had spent his entire career with the Marlins. Selected in the third round of the 2014 draft, the University of Arkansas product reached the majors a little more than three years later. He debuted late in the 2017 season and established himself as Miami’s everyday third baseman the following year.

That marked the first of four straight years Miami penciled him in at the hot corner on Opening Day. Through his first three seasons, the right-handed hitter was a productive player on both sides of the ball. He hit above average every year between 2018 and 2020, showing about average plate discipline and contact skills with quality hard contact numbers. Miami’s cavernous stadium didn’t do him many favors from a home run perspective, but he hit 30 doubles in both 2018 and ’19.

Overall, Anderson hit .266/.350/.436 in just over 1400 plate appearances over his first three full seasons. He combined that quality offense with an average to slightly above par marks at the hot corner in public defensive metrics. While not a star, Anderson looked like a solid regular who could factor into Miami’s lineup at least during his offseasons.

The last two years, however, have been disappointing, largely thanks to injuries. Anderson missed large parts of the 2021 campaign with a pair of left shoulder subluxations. In 67 games when he was healthy enough to play, he managed just a .249/.337/.378 line. He had another pair of roster injuries last season: first with lower back spasms in June, then a six-week absence in late summer with another left shoulder problem. Anderson appeared in 98 games, but hit a career-worst line of .222/.311/.346 in 383 trips to the plate.

Over the past two years, he’s hit .233/.321/.359 over average through 647 plate appearances. His strikeouts are up slightly, but the biggest concern is the lack of damage he’s done on contact. Anderson’s hard contact percentage is down a bit from his 2018-19 peak. He has totaled 25 doubles over the last two seasons after excelling at hitting the gaps in his early years against MLB pitching. In the wake of that decline in production, Miami did not tender him to start this winter instead returning him with a projected arbitration salary of around $5.2 million.

Once he hit free agency, Anderson became an intriguing buyout target for other clubs. His production certainly seems to have been negatively affected by the shoulder concerns that have sent him to IL a few times over the last two years. The Brewers will hope that an offseason of rest and a change of scenery will allow him to put his recent struggles behind him and recapture some of his early career promise.

In addition to his roughly average defense at third base, Anderson has extensive experience in the corner outfield. He has played over 1500 MLB innings as an outfielder, with almost all of that work in right field. Public metrics have been divided on his work on the turf. Defensive runs saved has credited him with eight runs better than average in the field over his career. Statcast, on the other hand, has him pegged at seven runs under par.

The Brewers presumably have a more favorable view of Anderson’s glove work. Luis Uries he’s pretty well established as a third baseman in Milwaukee. Anderson provides some extra coverage at the hot corner, but has his clearest path to playing right field. Christian Yelich will man left field, while the Brewers looked poised to pivot to center and right field Garrett Mitchell i Tyrone Taylor, respectively. Mitchell played well late in his rookie season, but only has 28 MLB games under his belt. Taylor connected on 17 home runs while playing more defense last year, earning a semi-regular role. However, he also hit .233 with a below-average .286 on-base percentage, raising some questions about his ability to handle the offensive demands of everyday right field work.

Anderson won’t necessarily beat Taylor out of the starting lineup, but he adds another option to the mix for manager Craig Counsell. His righty bat also provides some extra balance to a lefty-swinging first baseman/designated hitter tandem. Jesse Winker i Rowdy Tellezthough Anderson himself has fared better without the squad advantage in his career so far.

Financial terms of the deal remain undisclosed. If it’s a one-year deal, as seems likely, Anderson would return to free agency next winter after passing the six-year service threshold during the 2023 campaign. Once completed, Anderson will become in the third major league signing of the offseason for Milwaukee. Wade Miley signed a one-year, $4.5 million guarantee, while an outfielder Blake Perkins he’s on a pre-arbitration salary without ever playing in the majors before. Before accounting for Anderson’s money, Milwaukee projects a 2023 payroll of around $117 million, as estimated List resource. The club opened last season in the $132 million range, so there should still be room for more lower-cost additions for general manager Matt Arnold and his front office.

Image courtesy of USA Today Sports.

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