Brian Anderson’s season hasn’t gone as planned. Like other Marlins players, his 2021 campaign has fallen short of expectations in terms of health and offensive consistency. You could easily argue that he’s having the worst year of his young MLB career.
Anderson enters Saturday’s game hitting .244/.325/.378 in 64 games, along with 55 hits, nine doubles, seven home runs, and only 28 runs batted in. In August, the third baseman is slashing .205/.303/.321 and has far more strikeouts (21) than hits (16) across 89 plate appearances.
But considering the team’s circumstances and ongoing rebuilding process, the Marlins will face a very important decision soon.
The possibility of signing Anderson to a contract extension has been discussed here on Fish Stripes for a while now. He will be eligible for free agency right after the 2023 season. The 28-year-old’s rough 2021 could make him more receptive to the idea of locking in long-term financial security and perhaps lower whatever asking price he and his representatives previously had in mind. Do the Marlins trust in his talent to strike a deal?
Brian has been productive before, so there’s a chance this bad season might be a product of injuries or something else that might be fixed in the short run. He put up a .785 OPS with 74 doubles, six triples, and 42 home runs with an 8.1 bWAR in 341 games from 2018 to 2020.
Anderson is still a relatively young player. At the very least, he has the potential moving forward to produce something similar to his 2019 season, when he got 33 doubles and 20 four-baggers. By improving his approach against breaking balls and elevating his batted balls more frequently, he could even reach his All-Star ceiling.
The Marlins don’t have a clear substitute for him at third base. They need to wait several more years for the maturation of prospect José Salas (currently at the Low-A level), in the meantime targeting somebody else from outside the organization via trade or free agency.
Anderson has received a $3.8 million salary this season. The arbitration process is expected to increase that to around $5 million for 2022.
The Marlins should at least think about buying out several of Anderson’s free agent years, rather than creating another hole in their lineup.