Tigers Add Anderson From Braves

The Braves had three center field candidates, and decided to get down to two when they traded Josh Anderson to the Tigers for righthander Rudy Darrow. The Tigers get a speedy reserve outfielder, and the Braves cleared room on their 40-man roster while adding an intriguing power arm.
Young Players
Anderson, 26, has yet to fully establish himself as a big league starter. A fourth-round pick in 2003 out of Eastern Kentucky, Anderson came to the Braves last offseason from the Astros in the Oscar Villareal deal. Once a true burner, he’s now considered more of an above-average runner, but speed remains his best tool. He’s stolen at least 40 bases in every full season—and came pretty close in short-season ball, too, nabbing 26 in 74 games for Tri-City in 2003. He’s hit in limited big league looks, batting .294/.338/.426 in 136 at-bats in Atlanta last year and is at .315/.364/.419 overall in 203 at-bats, all in the National League. His contact approach and lack of patience (career-high 46 walks came back in 2004) make him a less-than-ideal fit in the leadoff spot. He’s a solid defender with enough arm and range to fill in in any spot as an extra outfielder.

Darrow, 25, is coming off his best season in 2008, when he reached Double-A Erie. A 32nd-round pick in 2006 out of Nicholls State, he has taken the road less traveled to prospect status, having started his college career as a 125-pound wrestler in junior college. He also had a growth-plate injury and Tommy John surgery, which prompted him to adopt a sidearm delivery. He reaches 94 mph with his fastball from that low slot and has excellent sink, allowing only one home run as a pro in 104 innings. He also throws a slider and a nascent changeup.

Anderson makes sense for some teams, but in Atlanta he was relatively redundant to Gregor Blanco and has less upside than Jordan Schafer. For the Tigers, he’s at least affordable and young, compared to the rest of the creaky, expensive roster. He could wind up as a defensive caddy for inexperienced left fielder Carlos Guillen and veteran right fielder Magglio Ordonez. He also brings a lefthanded bat off the bench, but he’s unlikely to dislodge Curtis Granderson from his starting position in this universe.

Trade Central 2009