Tyler Anderson jumped too soon.
Oh, anyone can understand why Anderson on Nov. 15 agreed to a three-year, $39 million free-agent deal with the Angels rather than accept a one-year, $19.65 million qualifying offer from the Dodgers. In his first six seasons, Anderson had an adjusted ERA that was precisely league-average. Last season, at age 32, he broke out with the Dodgers, producing the eighth-best adjusted ERA in the majors. The Angels offered him nearly $40 million. He wanted to play in Anaheim. Why mess around?
Reasonable question. Too reasonable, it turned out. Anderson acted rationally in an environment that quickly turned irrational. The contracts, for starting pitchers, in particular, but really, for all players, are getting crazier by the day. And the spending orgy at the Winter Meetings, rivaling the 2019 and 2000 editions, if not quite something out of Ancient Rome, is just getting started.
On Monday, Justin Verlander, turning 40 on Feb. 20, matched new Mets teammate Max Scherzer, 38, for the highest average annual salary in the game’s history, $43.33 million. Trea Turner agreed with the Phillies on an 11-year, $300 million contract that will take him through — gasp— age 40. Still to come: Aaron Judge, Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Rodón. And more.
Welcome to the perfect storm of baseball excess, a confluence of events that already has produced more than $1 billion in free-agent contracts. Each deal is more jaw-dropping and seemingly more nonsensical than the last. And yet, none of it comes as a surprise.