Earlier tonight, Brett Anderson agreed to an extension that will keep him in Oakland through at least 2013. The deal guarantees him $12.5 million and could keep him in green and gold through 2015. The A's hold a team option for 2014 for $8 million with a $1.5 million buyout and a team option for 2015 for $12 million, also with a $1.5 million buyout. If both options are exercised, the deal would be worth $31 million for six years (including this season).
The A's are getting an incredible value for Anderson's services, but the biggest reason for this is because of his service time. Anderson would have been under team control through 2014 anyways, though he almost certainly would have been a Super-Two, meaning that Anderson would have been eligible for arbitration four times, starting in 2011. To determine if the A's got a good deal we have to compare this signing to pitchers who received contract extensions with the same amount of service time.
In 2004, Brandon Webb signed a three year, $3.3 million contract after completing his rookie season. The deal bought out two of Webb's likely four arbitration years and included a $4 million option for his third arbitration season. The deal did not include his fourth arbitration season or any years of free agency. In 2008, James Shields signed a four year $11.25 million deal after 1.5 years with the Rays. That deal bought out Shields' three arbitration years and includes options for his first threeyears of free agency.
This deal appears to be in line with those other deals. The A's will be paying Anderson a tad more than Shields will be making, and they only have an option for one year of Anderson's free agency, not the three that the Rays have for Shields. Anderson, though, has more upside than Shields did. Anderson's FIP his rookie season was 3.67. Shields put up a 4.39 FIP in his rookie season and a 3.86 FIP in his first full season. Additionally, Shields was never as highly rated as a prospect as Anderson had been and Shields was 27 when he signed his deal, whereas Anderson is just 22.
Since it appears that the A's paid the going rate for Anderson, the only question left is whether or not it was the right decision to commit $12.5 million to him. The answer is a clear yes. There's a boatload of upside to this signing with minimal downside. The biggest risk in a deal like this is health. Anderson has not yet crossed the so-called injury nexus, but even if he suffers a catastrophic injury, the most he is guaranteed in any one season is $5.5 in 2013. This deal can't cripple the team. Plus, there's no special indication that Anderson is any more (or less) likely to get injured than anyone else. Some might guess that because he throws a lot of sliders he may be more likely to get hurt, but there's no real evidence that this is true.
I think the most likely scenario is closer to best case scenario than the worst case scenario. Anderson's stuff and track record make him one of the best young pitchers in baseball and it'll be nice to have him under team control through at least 2013.