Free Agent Profile: Two-time All-Star Tim Anderson is on the open market after the White Sox declined his option

Photo credit:Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Brennan Delaney
1 month ago
A veteran infielder who the Toronto Blue Jays had a rumoured interest in acquiring ahead of the 2023 deadline has just become a free agent. 
In this series, we look at free agents who the Jays could have an interest in when free agency opens on Monday. Recently, we’ve looked at Shohei Ohtani, Cody Bellinger, and Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Today, we’ll look at Tim Anderson.

Tim Anderson’s 2023:

The 30-year-old shortstop had a rough 2023 season with the Chicago White Sox. He slashed .245/.286/.396 with a homer in 524 plate appearances, giving him a 60 wRC+ and a -0.5 fWAR. It was a staggering decline for a player who had been an All-Star in each of the past two seasons. 
Anderson’s best season came in the shortened 2020 campaign, in which he posted a .322/.357/.529 slash line with 10 homers in just 221 plate appearances, but that was a rather small sample size. His 2019 sample size was larger, slashing .335/.357/.508 with 18 homes in 519 plate appearances for a 128 wRC+ and a 4.5 fWAR.
Defensively, Anderson is a below-average inf, posting a -16 Defensive Runs Saved and a -1 Outs Above Average in 1002.2 innings fielded at the position. Back in 2018, he had a 12 DRS and 8 OAA, but this appears to be an outlier as his second-best season in terms of DRS and OAA came in 2021 with a 3 DRS and 3 OAA.

What will Tim Anderson’s contract be like:

The White Sox declined his $14 million team option for the 2024 season, so it’s well within reason to believe that he’ll make less than that coming off an abysmal 2023. It wouldn’t be surprising to me if a team offered a contract that’s similar to what the Blue Jays offered Kevin Kiermaier and Brandon Belt, two veterans coming off of difficult seasons, but maybe in the $7-8 million range.
There could be a comparison to former Blue Jay Marcus Semien and how they handled his contract coming into the 2021 season. Prior to his fantastic 2021 season, Semien only had one season with a wRC+ above 100 (2019, 138), with all other seasons falling in the 90 range.
That season, Semien made $18 million, which is significantly more than what Anderson will make. However, I can see a similar premise where the Blue Jays sign Anderson to a “show-me” deal to try to regain the All-Star form he had from 2019-2023. 

Is Tim Anderson a fit for the Blue Jays:

Yes. As it stands, the Blue Jays don’t have an established, full-time third or second baseman, as Whit Merrifield and Matt Chapman are both set to become free agents. There are internal replacements such as Davis Schneider, Addison Barger, and Orelvis Martinez in the system, but having Anderson fill in for one season would take the pressure off of those young players.
In the majors, Anderson has only played 18 innings at second base, with the rest of the 7662 innings coming at shortstop. We’ll use Semien as a comparison here, but he was also a shortstop and only played 647.2 innings at other positions dating back to 2013 and 2014. When he signed with Toronto, he moved to second base and excelled. Could the same happen with Anderson?
Even if they don’t try to pull off a Semien situation again, it’d be nice to have a backup shortstop with as much experience under his belt as Anderson, which they felt they needed to get at the 2023 deadline in Paul DeJong after Bo Bichette went on the Injured List. 

As always, you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Threads @Brennan_L_D



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