After a strong season in Los Angeles for the Dodgers in 2022, Tyler Anderson decided to sign with the American League team down the street in the Angels. The contract is for three years and $39 million. After pitching actually pretty well for the Rockies for several years in the thin air of Denver, he floundered in 2019 and didn’t get his act back together in 2020 for the San Francisco Giants, either.
The Pirates took a $2.5 million flier on him for 2021, and he pitched well enough for the Mariners to send some minor league depth for him. Despite a rough end to the year in Seattle, the Dodgers took a chance on him. Then, in 2022, Anderson refined his changeup and had a great year that netted him this contract.
The projections expect Tyler Anderson to take a step back in 2023 (only 1.8 projected WAR vs his 4 WAR in 2022), but I’m not sure I buy into that. Still, even if Anderson is merely league average for the next three season, this is still a great deal for the Angels. Heck, if the Angels only get 1.8 WAR per season, that’s 5.4 WAR for $39 million or $7.2 million per WAR. That’s actually a below market deal. Considering that plenty of other teams were likely in on Anderson, including the Red Sox who needed him almost as badly as the Angels did, clearly Anderson wants to stay in Los Angeles.
According to FanGraphs, Anderson’s changeup was worth 15.3 runs above average. His cutter was 8.6 runs above average, and his fastball, thanks to the effectiveness of those other pitches, was 7.6 runs above average. His sinker wasn’t great (-1.9 runs below average) and his changeup was merely average. But, that all adds up to an above average pitcher who gets above-average swings out of the zone (39.1% to the 34% MLB average).
What do these numbers mean? Well, the only change-up in 2022 that was better was worth 24.5 runs above average, and that pitch belonged to your 2022 National League Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara. Logan Webb was right behind Anderson at 11.7, and that’s Webb’s bread and butter pitch. Anderson’s cutter ranked fourth behind Corbin Burnes (26.4 RAA!), Martin Perez, and Framber Valdez, all guys who live off their cutter.
This means that, yes, Anderson figured out some real things in LA in 2022. So, he gets to stay in town and move to a team that desperately needs starting rotation help. The fact he actually took a below-market deal means that the league still doesn’t buy the improvements. Angels GM Perry Minasian may have gotten a bargain here, and even if he didn’t, a healthy Anderson still likely out-performs what’s probably the best value contract of the 2022 MLB off-season to that point.
The only reason I think that this contract won out over the other teams is Anderson’s age: he’s 33 going into the 2023 season. But, it’s not like his arm has been pitched to death. His arm’s been fine for his entire career, with the only real issue being a knee issue in 2019 (thanks to Cubbies Crib for that fact). His career ERA is mostly high due to pitching in Colorado for the majority of his career, and WAR takes that into account. This looks to be a major win for the Angels and a huge win for Tyler Anderson’s bank account.