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What Doug Fister Means to the A’s Continuing Employment of Brett Anderson

December 3, 2013

The A’s have been involved in trade talks for Brett Anderson. It makes sense. Anderson is young (he will enter his 26 year old season next year) and has shown flashes of brilliance. As I have argued in the past, I question just how much brilliance Anderson has actually shown, but that is neither here nor there. Teams are interested, with reports saying those teams include the very enamored Toronto Blue Jays to other less interested parties in the Cleveland Indians, Minnesota Twins and Seattle Mariners. But late yesterday there was a deal that was pretty confusing to all involved. There is a lot of weirdness to the economics of baseball. Mike Trout has been one of baseball’s best players the past two seasons though you’d never know it from his salary, while Alex Rodriguez‘ salary would make one think he the league leader in something other than New York Post Page Six stories. The A’s signed Scott Kazmir for $22M over the next two years, but one has a very reasonable argument saying that Tim Hudson (signed for $23M over the next two years) is worth more than just $500K a year than Kazmir. But so is the game of baseball. Yet all these deals influence others. One guy gets paid handsomely and another free agent says, well wait a minute, I am just as good if not better so I want that pay too and away we go. Trades have the same effect. The market for starting pitchers is notoriously wacky, but yesterday the Tigers basically gave one of the American League’s best pitchers to the Washington Nationals for nothing.

I will leave it to a Detroit Tigers blog to talk about what they think of the Doug Fister deal, but I have long been a fan of his and thought that Detroit got him in a steal from Seattle, but now Washington has equally ripped off the Tigers in acquiring his arbitration eligible and under team control through 2016 services for former Athletic farmhand Ian Krol, infielder Steve Lombardozzi and the highlight of the package pitching prospect Robbie Ray. This move makes no sense to me at all for the Tigers who are certainly a team with an open window of contention and deep pockets. But why then am I writing about it here on an Oakland A’s focused blog? Because if the A’s want to trade Anderson, what other teams are getting for pitchers means something. Anderson is no Fister, Fister in the past three seasons is ranked ninth in WAR behind David Price and ahead of Cole Hamels. No one is talking about Anderson in those circles. Dave Cameron at Fangraphs highlighted how a comp for Fister is realistically James Shields and look at what he brought back last winter (no less than American League Rookie of the Year Wil Myers). But if Fister can be had for this weak haul (Ray projects in many circles as a reliever, Krol was a PTBNL just last offseason and Lombardozzi is at best a utility infielder) what can the A’s hope to get for Anderson? A bag of baseballs? Maybe a golf cart to ferry players from Papago to Phoenix Muni?

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