Billy McKinney has been optioned to the Blue Jays’ taxi squad, clearing the way to for Chase Anderson to join the active roster, per Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.
Anderson starts today’s game against the Red Sox, who are struggling themselves to fill out the starting rotation. The Jays rotation ranks 25th in fWAR for the season with a total of just 0.2 fWAR. Their big offseason acquisition Hyun Jin Ryu has been mediocre early on, though he’s within the realm of acceptable outcomes for just a three-start sample (5.14 ERA, 4.14 FIP, 3.69 xFIP). Top prospect Nate Pearson has had an encouraging couple of starts. The back end of the rotation has struggled, however, where Tanner Roark (5.63 ERA/6.62 FIP) and Matt Shoemaker (5.91 ERA/6.93 FIP) have yet to hit their stride.
Anderson, 32, debuted in 2014 as a 26-year-old for the Diamondbacks. He spent two seasons in Arizona’s rotation before taking turns as part of the Brewers starting five for the last four. Though he’s never logged more than 158 innings in a given season, he’s been remarkably consistent, making between 25 and 30 starts per season for somewhere between 139 and 158 innings in each of the last five seasons. The right-hander carries a career 53-40 record with a 3.94 ERA/4.54 FIP. That’s steady production for Anderson, who has flown relatively under the radar as a back-end rotation piece.
The Blue Jays scooped him up from Milwaukee this past September for minor league first baseman Chad Spanberger. At the time of the deal, the Blue Jays had a completely uncertain rotation situation for 2020, though they continued to add all winter. The full amount for Anderson’s deal was set for $8.5MM this season before the shutdown, with a team option at $9.5MM for 2021, making him a relatively affordable arm if he can continue to put forth the consistent workload he has thus far in his career. The Jays hold a $500K buyout option for next season.
For McKinney, he’ll return to Toronto’s taxi squad for now, though this move represents just some of the roster management that’s becoming standard this season. McKinney has been a semi-regular fourth outfielder for the Blue Jays since being acquired from the Yankees with Brandon Drury for J.A. Happ. He’s appeared in just one game thus far this season as a pinch-runner.