Anderson’s departure is not all that surprising considering that the SF Giants were quietly positioning themselves to make this type of move all offseason.
This is not to say that the Giants were preparing to move Anderson all offseason. With that being said, they added enough bullpen depth on minor-league deals where they felt they could make an asset-to-asset trade.
SF Giants quietly prepared for Anderson trade
The Giants have been adding veteran arms on deals that give them flexibility. So far, they have added Jay Jackson, Zack Littell, James Sherfy, Silvino Bracho, and Dominic Leone to the mix. These are not household names by any means, but they each have a major league track record:
- Jackson (two seasons): 4.67 ERA, 4.33 FIP, 1.31 WHIP, 13.2 K/9, 2.68 SO/W
- Littell (three seasons): 4.52 ERA, 5.42 FIP, 1.47 WHIP, 6.9 K/9, 2.13 SO/W
- Sherfy (three seasons): 2.98 ERA, 3.82 FIP, 1.16 WHIP, 9.5 K/9, 2.82 SO/W
- Bracho (five seasons): 4.82 ERA, 4.86 FIP, 1.31 WHIP, 9.4 K/9, 2.85 SO/W
- Leone (seven seasons): 4.09 ERA, 4.06 FIP, 1.38 WHIP, 9.6 K/9, 2.61 SO/W
Each of the five names mentioned above has experienced some level of success at the major-league level, but the consistency to stick has eluded them. None of them have a problem with accumulating high strikeout totals, excluding Littell, but it is clear from the surface-level stats that they battle command issues at times.
For comparison purposes, Anderson has registered a 5.17 ERA, 4.90 FIP, 1.53 WHIP, 7.1 K/9, and a 1.76 SO/W ratio in 111.1 innings spread across two seasons. San Francisco likely saw Anderson as a bit redundant in terms of organizational depth, so they traded from a surplus in the bullpen to acquire a need in the outfield. To put it differently, the Giants felt that they could better use that 40-man roster spot.
Now, each of the five bullpen arms will compete for a spot on the Opening Day roster. If they perform well, they will likely be rewarded. San Francisco’s 40-man roster is currently full, but that will change when Spring Training begins since they will be able to place John Brebbia (Tommy John surgery), Tyler Beede (Tommy John surgery), and Alexander Canario (dislocated shoulder) on the 60-day injured list.
Teams will want to maintain as much organizational depth as possible. It is likely that most, if not all, have opt-out clauses in their contracts that will allow them to pursue opportunities elsewhere if they are not added to the roster by a certain date.
As a team, the Giants bullpen posted a 4.24 ERA in 2020. It was clear that they were light on depth, especially from the right side. That looks to be less of an issue as they head into the 2021 campaign.
At the very least, the Anderson trade suggests that there was a comfort level with the depth they have brought in that they could make such a move. When Farhan Zaidi took over as the Giants president of baseball operations, he said that no baseball move was too small.
Furthermore, he never, to the annoyance of some fans, defined the Giants as rebuilding. Rather, he emphasized that they would focus on making smart moves. A handful of smart moves to add bullpen depth allowed the Giants to go out and fill a need by adding Wade Jr. This has been a rare type of move in the Zaidi era thus far.