The Oakland A's shed some payroll and added two pitchers will lots of years of team control on Tuesday, as they traded veteran left-hander Brett Anderson to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for left-hander Drew Pomeranz and right-hander Chris Jensen. Pomeranz has 136.2 innings of major-league experience and is on the 40-man roster, although he still has six years before free agency. Jensen was a sixth-round pick of the Rockies in 2011 and spent last season in High-A.
Anderson leaves the A's after a disappointing 2013 season that saw him miss significant time with a foot injury and finish the year in the bullpen. He had a 6.04 ERA in 44.2 innings for the A's last season (11 relief appearances and five starts). Anderson made one relief appearance for the A's in the post-season, allowing a run in one-third of an inning.
The Midland, Texas, native was acquired by the A's from the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Dan Haren deal just before the 2008 season. Anderson quickly rose through the ranks of the A's system, making his major-league debut in 2009. He had a 4.06 ERA in 30 starts for the A's during his rookie season and was especially good during the second half of that year.
In 2010, Anderson had a 2.80 ERA, but he threw only 112 innings, as he missed time with a forearm strain. His 2011 season was cut short after 83.1 innings when he tore his UCL and had to undergo Tommy John surgery. Anderson returned for the final two months of the 2012 regular season, posting a 2.57 ERA in six starts. He missed time during the final few weeks of the season with a strained oblique but was healthy for the post-season and won Game Three of the ALDS for the A's that year.
Anderson was due $8 million next season and there is a team option worth $12 million for 2015 (there is a $1.5 million buyout if the option is declined). The A's are sending cash to Colorado along with Anderson, and the SF Chronicle is reporting that the amount is $2 million.
In return for Anderson, the A's are receiving the former fifth-overall pick in the 2010 MLB draft (Pomeranz) and a pitcher who hails from a school the A's have had success drafting from in recent years (Jensen).
Pomeranz was the Cleveland Indians' top pick in 2010. The left-hander starred at Mississippi and was thought to be a polished product who would reach the major leagues quickly. He signed too late to pitch for the Indians in 2010 and made his debut in 2011. He breezed through High-A and Double-A with the Indians before being traded after 18 starts to the Rockies in the Ubaldo Jimenez deal. Pomeranz made only two appearances in the Rockies' chain that year before making his major-league debut.
Before the 2012 season, Pomeranz was considered a consensus top-50 MLB prospect. He made 10 starts in the minor leagues for the Rockies in 2012, posting a 2.31 ERA with a 50:21 K:BB in 50.2 innings. Pomeranz would spend the rest of the season in the Rockies' rotation, making 22 starts. He had a 4.93 ERA and an 83:46 K:BB.
The 2013 season was a difficult one for Pomeranz. He made only eight appearances (four starts) for the Rockies. Pomeranz made 16 starts for Colorado's Triple-A and Double-A affiliates. His minor league ERA was 4.65 and he had a 101:34 K:BB in 91 innings. In 21.2 major league innings, Pomeranz had a 6.23 ERA and a 19:19 K:BB. He spent time on the DL with left bicep tendinitis.
Pomeranz (6'4'', 235) is a hard-thrower who can rush his fastball up to 95 MPH, but he doesn't always command the pitch well. He has made several adjustments to his mechanics and his conditioning over the past two years with uneven results. If he can get back to what made him a top prospect just two years ago, Pomeranz could be a solid middle of the rotation starter for the A's. There was some concern that Pomeranz was trying to trick hitters rather than challenge them with Colorado. Perhaps a move to a pitcher-friendly environment in Oakland or Sacramento will help him regain his aggressiveness. Pomeranz will be eligible for arbitration in 2016 and he just turned 25 in November.
Jensen is a tall right-hander who was selected in the sixth-round of the 2011 draft out of the University of San Diego. During his time at USD, Jensen was a teammate of current A's starter A.J. Griffin and later A's prospect Dylan Covey.
The A's saw a lot of Jensen in 2013 when he was a member of the Modesto Nuts. He made 28 starts in the California League in 2013, posting a 4.55 ERA and a 136:39 K:BB. He improved his K:BB significantly from 2012 (when it was 1.90) to 2013 (when it was 3.49).
Jensen isn't overpowering, but his fastball sits in the low-90s and gets good movement. He has a solid change-up, a pitch that is valued heavily in the A's system. The Gilbert, Arizona, native has been durable during his three year pro career. Jensen will be 23 throughout the 2014 regular season and he should start next year in Double-A.
With this trade, the A's have given themselves some payroll flexibility and have added some roster flexibility by bringing in two pitchers who have more years under team control than Anderson. If Pomeranz can get back to what made him successful at Mississippi and during his first pro season, the A's could be netting a number three starter for the next five years. However, they also are giving up the pitcher who was easily their most talented starter since the 2009 season. If Anderson can put together a healthy 2014 season, he could be a pitcher the A's miss a lot as they push for another division title.
One thing this trade doesn't do is ease the logjam of starting pitching candidates leading into spring training. The A's still have eight starters on their 40-man roster with significant starting pitching experience in the big leagues. They could make another deal involving a pitcher on their 40-man roster before the off-season is through.