Anderson, 33, returns to Brewers and can make an additional $1 million in incentives.
The deal is pending a physical.
Anderson signed a one-year deal with Milwaukee in December 2019. He went 4-4 in 11 appearances (10 starts) with a 4.21 ERA during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, missing the Brewers’ wild-card series loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers because of a recurring blister issue.
Anderson has been hurt throughout his 13-year big league career. He had back surgery for a herniated disk at the end of the 2014 season and again in 2016 for a bulging disk. He had Tommy John surgery in 2011, and he has missed time with an oblique strain and broken finger.
During the 2019 season, he went 13-9 with a 3.89 ERA in 31 starts with the Athletics; despite posting the lowest strikeout rate of any qualifying starter in baseball (just 12.1% of batters faced) he still boasted a 2.7 bWAR (Baseball-Reference’s wins above replacement), thanks to a low walk rate and the third-best ground ball rate among starters.
For his career, Anderson is 63-65 with a 4.06 ERA and 714 strikeouts in 186 starts and 13 relief appearances for the Athletics (2009-13, 2018-19), Colorado Rockies (2014), Dodgers (2015-16), Chicago Cubs (2017), Toronto Blue Jays (2017) and Brewers (2020).
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Chicago White Sox’s Michael Kopech motivated after 2 years off
Chicago White Sox right-hander Michael Kopech, who opted out of the pandemic-shortened 2020 season after missing all of 2019 due to Tommy John surgery, said he’s regained his motivation after two years away from baseball.
Kopech cited multiple reasons for opting out when speaking to reporters on Saturday, including concerns about his mental health.
The promising 24-year-old disclosed previously that he suffers from anxiety and depression, and he alluded Saturday to changes in his perspective brought on not just by the time away from the ballpark, but also the birth in January of his first child, a son named River.
“I think I learned that I need this game a lot more than I realized,” Kopech said. “It’s a lot easier said than done to take a step away from something you’ve done your entire life.
“It’s made me regain the motivation to get back out there,” he added, “along with some other things that have happened in my life.”
Kopech was one of nearly 20 players to opt out of last season — a list that includes All-Stars like the Los Angeles Dodgers‘s David Price, San Francisco’s Buster Posey, Milwaukee’s Lorenzo Cain, the New York Mets‘ Marcus Stroman and Washington’s Ryan Zimmerman.
Price, who was traded to the Dodgers last February and watched his team win the World Series from home, said he feels comfortable returning for 2021.
“I feel like our team and MLB handled it extremely well,” Price said. “I know they had a lot of protocols they had to go through. The training staff were bending over backwards to keep guys COVID free.
“We have a lot more information on it now,” he added. “All of that played into the decision to play this year. I knew I wanted to play this year.”
Nationals right-hander Joe Ross echoed that sentiment. He hasn’t pitched since starting Game 5 of the 2019 World Series, passing on a chance to defend the title because of all the uncertainties at the time about the effectiveness of MLB’s protocols.
After early season outbreaks on the Cardinals and Marlins, MLB adjusted its safety guidelines and successfully played through the end of the season. The league has enhanced its protocols this spring, including the introduction of electronic contact tracing wristbands for players to wear around team facilities.
“Everything so far has been going great,” Ross said. “It’s kind of a normal, quote-unquote, spring training as far as being back on the field and stuff like that.”
Teams have concerns about overtaxing pitchers after last year’s abbreviated workloads, and those apprehensions are even stronger for pitchers like Ross who didn’t pitch at all.
The Mets have similar concerns for Stroman, a 5-foot-7 right-hander who tore a muscle in his left calf last July and opted out a few weeks later. Fiery and confident as always, Stroman thinks he’s put in the work necessary to enter the season full bore.
“I never have to get ready because I stay ready,” he said. “I’m ready to rock. I’m ready to go out there and throw 200-plus innings like I do every year. My preparations are elite.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Jake Arrieta says being back with Chicago Cubs ‘just feels right’
Arrieta, 34, signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the team he helped to a World Series title and will now be managed by his former catcher, David Ross.
“To play for a manager that caught one of my no-hitters is pretty cool,” Arrieta said in a Saturday video call with reporters. “This is where I wanted to be. The last few days here, it just feels right.”
Arrieta previously pitched for the Cubs from 2013-2017, winning the Cy Young award in 2015, the wild-card game that same season and a World Series ring the next year. Along the way, he threw two no-hitters, elevating his game to be among the best in baseball.
But after signing a free-agent contract with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2018, his production — and health — went south. His ERA climbed from 3.96 in 2018 to 4.64 in 2019 and then to 5.08 in 2020. He dealt with a meniscus issue and bone spurs in Philadelphia but said he is healthy now.
“There’s always things to prove,” Arrieta said. “Not that it’s in a negative way. It’s really just to prove I’m capable of performing at a high level. The level I expect to perform at. The last three years weren’t to my expectations.”
The Cubs hoped to unlock the same things they did when Arrieta came over from Baltimore as an ordinary pitcher in a mid-season trade in 2013. Some faces in the organization have changed, but many remain, giving Arrieta a level of comfort in his return.
“I would never want to make it seem like I’m not capable of performing in — fill in the blank — but is it a little bit different here in Chicago?” Arrieta said. “Of course. Just being able to put that uniform on, wearing 49 again in Wrigley Field, is going to be pretty special.”
Ross added: “Jake is still a top-of-the-rotation-type pitcher. Sometimes getting back to familiar coaches, familiar places can really elevate your game.”
Arrieta threw for teams in his hometown of Austin, Texas, during the winter but kept in close contact with the Cubs throughout the free agent process. After the team began shedding salary — including the trade of starter Yu Darvish — Arrieta wasn’t sure if there would be room for him.
“At first I thought it was less likely as those things started to happen,” Arrieta explained. “]But] their need for pitching is there.
“It was an unusual free agent market. Unlike one we’ve seen in the past. Baseball is in a weird spot. Teams have had to change the way they approach certain aspects of the game and rightly so [due to financial concerns].”
Arrieta returns to Chicago as a more experienced leader. He’s already attempting to impart his wisdom on the younger pitchers, indicating he’s spent a lot of time already with 25 year-old Adbert Alzolay.
“It comes with the territory,” Arrieta said. “You get to a point in your career where you’re expected to perform not only on the field but off the field. I take great pride in that.”
“He understands the presence he has,” Ross said.
Arrieta is sure to get a warm welcome from Cubs fans as he’s a reminder of their glory years, though the team might be in a bit of a transition right now. Arrieta is out to show them he’s the guy they remember dominating the competition en route to a Cy Young and a championship.
“I have a lot in the tank,” Arrieta said. “I have a lot to still accomplish in this game. I’m excited it’s going to happen in this Cubs uniform again.”
Cleveland Indians ace Shane Bieber reports to camp after COVID-19 bout
Cleveland’s ace recently tested positive with the virus. Bieber experienced only mild symptoms, but had to be isolated per MLB protocols before being medically cleared to join his teammates. The Indians’ other pitchers and catchers reported earlier this week,
The right-hander took part in drills on Saturday, a day before the Indians hold their first full-squad workout in Goodyear, Arizona.
The 25-year-old Bieber was baseball’s best pitcher during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. Bieber led the majors in wins, ERA and strikeouts, a rare Triple Crown for pitchers.
Bieber will be expected to carry the load again for the Indians this season. The club has one of the AL’s best starting staffs, led by Bieber, who is 34-14 in three major league seasons.
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