Athletics

Evaluating A's free agents in 2018 MLB offseason: Brett Anderson

andersonbrettgreennight.jpg
AP

Evaluating A's free agents in 2018 MLB offseason: Brett Anderson

Brett Anderson is coming off an up-and-down season that saw him finish 4-5 with a 4.48 ERA and 1..28 WHIP. The 30-year-old southpaw also made two trips to the disabled list with shoulder and forearm injuries.

Anderson found his form in the month of August, compiling a 2.15 ERA in five starts, but the rest of the season was mostly a struggle. Overall, 2018 represented an improvement from his 6.34 ERA in 2017, but this was clearly not the same Anderson from his first stint in Oakland.

Anderson signed a minor league contract with the A's in March and earned $1.5 million when he made the 40-man roster and pitched in the big leagues.

Why the A's should re-sign him

When healthy, Anderson could be a decent number five starter in the A's rotation. He is comfortable in Oakland and could provide depth for the A's in the case of injuries to other starting pitchers. He also doesn't figure to draw much interest around the league and should therefore be affordable once again.

Why the A's should let him go

Anderson has struggled the last few seasons. Between injuries and ineffectiveness, he struggled to find a rhythm in 2018. Oakland has better starting pitching options, even though some of them are currently injured. Another $1.5 million contract might be too much to spend on a fringe starting pitcher with a history of injuries.

Verdict

The A's will most likely move on from Anderson. Even though they could probably sign him for a reasonable price, the A's would prefer to turn to younger starters like Daniel Mengden, Frankie Montas,  Jesús Luzardo, and when healthy, A.J. Puk and Jharel Cotton. Anderson's inconsistency the last few seasons makes him hard to rely on as more than a long reliever or depth starter.

Revisiting A's signing of Grant Balfour in free agency eight years ago

balfourusatsi.jpg
USATSI

Revisiting A's signing of Grant Balfour in free agency eight years ago

January 18, 2011 officially marked the beginning of "Balfour Rage."

The A's signed Australian relief pitcher Grant Balfour to a two-year, $8 million contract with a $4.5 million option for a third year. Balfour, who was 33 years old at the time, had spent the previous four seasons with Tampa Bay, seeing mixed results.

The right-hander was coming off a strong season in 2010, however, going 2-1 with a 2.28 ERA in 57 appearances. He had never been a closer in his big league career, but averaged better than a strikeout per inning as a setup man.

Performance

Balfour had a strong 2011 season in Oakland in a setup role. He went 5-2 with two saves and a 2.47 ERA, striking out 59 in 62 innings. Balfour eventually took over the closer role in 2012 and recorded 24 saves in 26 opportunities with a 2.53 ERA.

The A's exercised Balfour's option in 2013 and he posted a career-high 38 saves in 41 opportunities with a 2.59 ERA, earning his first and only All-Star appearance. He also set the A's franchise record with 41 consecutive saves converted.

Balfour quickly became a fan favorite, known for his fiery passion and screaming of profanities on the mound. "Balfour Rage," as it became known, sometimes rubbed batters the wrong way, but Balfour insisted it was just his way of pumping himself up. Needless to say, A's fans loved it.

[RELATED: How A's could learn from Coco Crisp signing nine years ago]

Lesson

The Balfour signing was a great success for Oakland. In three seasons, he went 9-7 with 64 saves and a 2.53 ERA. For just over $12 million, that was a bargain.

Balfour proved to be a late developer in his career. He didn't really put it all together until he was in his 30s. While the A's signed Balfour to be a setup man, they were open to an increased role for him and eventually he earned the closer job.

Of course, Balfour's personality was a big part of his success in Oakland. "Balfour Rage" resonated with fans and teammates alike. That became his identity and both he and his team embraced it.

2019 free agent comparison

It's not exactly "Balfour Rage," but Sergio Romo is quite flamboyant on the mound. Like Balfour, Romo wears his emotions on his sleeve and gets fired up when he records an important out, sometimes bothering hitters.

Romo, 35, went 3-4 with 25 saves and a 4.14 ERA last season with the Rays. For his career, the right-handed reliever owns a 2.86 ERA and 1.01 WHIP, averaging well over a strikeout per inning.

A's 2019 Projections: Josh Phegley could start unless team makes moves

phegleyusatsi.jpg
USATSI

A's 2019 Projections: Josh Phegley could start unless team makes moves

Editor's note: Over the next few weeks, NBC Sports California will be analyzing a different A's player each day to project their numbers for next season.

Unless the A's add another catcher, Josh Phegley is poised to get the most playing time of his big league career. Phegley and Chris Herrmann are currently the only catchers on the A's active roster and they figure to platoon behind the plate.

Last season, Phegley hit .204/.255/.344 with two home runs, seven doubles, and 15 RBI in 39 games. The 30-year-old re-signed with the A's in November for one year at $1.075 million.

Phegley has a career slash line of .223/.264/.372. His best season came in 2015 when he hit .249/.300/.449 with a career-high nine homers and 34 RBI.

Phegley has performed slightly better against left-handed pitching throughout his career, hitting .243/.279/.414. The right-handed hitter figures to get most of next season's at-bats against southpaws, with Herrmann starting against righties.

Phegley has also been solid defensively throughout his career, maintaining a .992 fielding percentage and throwing out 33 percent of attempted base stealers, five points above the league average.

Baseball Reference projects Phegley to hit .223/.285/.368 next year with six home runs, 15 doubles, and 28 RBI. They estimate him at 242 at-bats, which would be a career-high.

[RELATED: Chris Herrmann 2019 projections]

Phegley has done everything the A's have asked of him over the years and proven to be a consistent player and great clubhouse presence. We expect a slight improvement from last season, especially if he gets increased playing time.

Projection: .227/.297/.374, 6 HR, 12 doubles, 27 RBI