What is sure to be a busy winter for the Milwaukee Brewers got off to a hot start on Monday as David Stearns shipped starting pitcher Chase Anderson to the Toronto Blue Jays. In exchange, the Crew received minor league first baseman/outfielder Chad Spanberger.
The Brewers faced a crossroads decision with Anderson: pick up an option for 2020 worth $8.5 million, or move on. Based on reports following the move, it appears that the Brewers were planning on declining the option, making the addition of Spanberger via trade a favorable alternative to simply letting Anderson walk.
The decision to trade Anderson seems surprising at first when considering how thin the Brewers’ starting rotation became in 2019. The only pitchers returning who are solidified in their rotation spots seem to Brandon Woodruff and Zach Davies, with Adrian Houser potentially joining that list. However, it is worth noting that Chase Anderson did not exactly function at a true “starter” capacity, as he often was pulled prior to finishing five innings (he averaged just over 4 and 2/3 innings pitched in games he started). The front office likely determined $8.5 million was not needed to fill that role.
Nevertheless, Anderson acted as a consistent piece of a rotation that often found itself in various forms of disarray during his four years in Milwaukee. Highlighted by an outstanding 2017 season that saw him spin a 2.74 ERA, Anderson provided some semblance of stability to the Crew’s starting pitching corps, making at least 25 starts every season and hitting the 30 mark twice.
In return for Anderson, the Brewers receive Chad Spanberger. Drafted in the 6th round of the 2017 MLB Draft, Spanberger is noted as having excellent raw power in nearly every scouting report you can find. He flashed it in each of his first two minor league seasons, posting a .294/.368/.617 line in 2017 and .315/.363/.579 in 2018. The jump to Double-A in 2019 proved to be his first challenge, as his numbers declined to a more pedestrian .237/.308/.399 with just 13 home runs.
Spanberger offers an upper-level power bat to the Brewers’ minor-league system. He could potentially contribute in 2020 at a first base position that is currently lacking an obvious starter.
With this trade in the books, look for David Stearns to begin circling the starting pitching market, as few internal options exist that are major-league caliber.