For those of you who suffer from tl;dr-itis, this is a straight talent swap. The O's need pitching. The A's need offense, a CF, and are actively shopping and have shopped their best pitchers. They appear to be in full sell mode. Adam Jones provides an upgrade from last year's CF and can be flipped easily for prospects or maybe extended. Brett Anderson is an injury risk but has a team-friendly contract with strong GB rates and other peripherals to suggest his pitching skills are not exaggerated by the Coliseum. He would also be our youngest starter at the tender age of 23, so basically the age of pitching prospects we might receive for AJ in a different trade.
For those of you who want the geeky stuff....
Adam Jones (DoB: 8/1/1985): 2 arbitration years (made $3.25M in 2011, looking at a raise), Free Agent in 2014
Brett Anderson (DoB: 2/1/1988): 2012: $3 million, 2013: $5.5 million, 2014: $8 million club option (or $1.5 million buyout), 2015: $12 million club option (or $1.5 million buyout)
2011 (G: 151, BA: 280, OBP: .319, SLG: .466, wOBA .339, wRC+110 UZR: -8.7, BSR: 3.9, fWAR: 2.9)
2010 (G: 149, BA: .284, OBP: .325, SLG: .442, wOBA, wRC+: .333, wRC+103, UZR: -4.3, BSR: 2.5, fWAR: 2.6)
2009 (G: 119, BA: .277, OBP: .335, SLG: .457, wOBA: .343, wRC+: 103, UZR: -7.6, BSR: 2.0, fWAR: 1.8)
2008 (G: 132, BA: .270, OBP: .311, SLG: .400, wOBA: .313 wRC+: 85, UZR: 5.8, BSR: 0.8, fWAR: 1.8)
2011 (GS: 13, IP: 83.1, K/9: 6.59, BB/9: 2.70, HR/9: 0.86, BABIP: .306, GB%: 57.5 %, ERA: 4.00, FIP: 3.96, xFIP: 3.66, fWAR: 1.1)
2010 (GS: 19, IP: 112.1, K/9: 6.01, BB/9: 1.76, HR/9: 0.48, BABIP: .294, GB%: 54.6 %, ERA: 2.80, FIP: 3.21, xFIP: 3.62, fWAR: 2.6)
2009 (GS: 30, IP: 175.1, K/9: 7.70, BB/9: 2.31, HR/9: 1.03, BABIP: .309, GB%: 50.9%, ERA: 4.06, FIP: 3.69, xFIP: 3.56, fWAR: 3.7)
Adam Jones would fill the gap in CF left by Coco Crisp and offer a significant upgrade in offense. He has two years of team control left on his contract and represents good value for his talent level. His skill set would translate relatively well to the Coliseum because he has a strong tendency to keep the ball on the ground (GB career rate: 48.8%) and avoid FBs (FB career rate: 33.4%) that die in the endless void that is the outfield there. Of course, his home run totals would decline as well but there isn't much that can be done about that.
Most importantly, he is eminently flippable, one of Billy Beane's favorite pastimes. The A's, much like the O's, are in a state of perennial rebuilding it seems. So, despite the fact that Beane would more than likely want prospects for a trade of any of his players, and the O's don't have the prospects the A's would want (that we would give up) that would land Brett Anderson, Adam Jones would be a valuable chip to realize prospects in the future while providing possible upside in the 3+ fWAR range in the meantime.
As for the hole in CF, we have a few options. We can: (a) live with a two-headed monument to futility in Hudson and Angle, which would make me sick but would be very cheap; (b) sign Coco Crisp or someone with good defensive skills, which would cost some money but would not make me want to vomit; or (c) trade for someone such as Bryan Petersen, on whom I have developed an inexplicable mancrush.
Now, for the O's.
Brett Anderson is a 23 year-old 2nd Round (55) pick out of something called Stillwater HS in Oklahoma. I'm sure he couldn't get out of there fast enough. In 2009, Baseball America rated him as the No. 7 prospect in baseball and, as a mere mortal, would join his fellow 2009 top prospect, Switch Hitting Jesus. Needless to say, Anderson can be, and was expected to be, a very, very good pitcher. He has strong groundball tendencies and excellent peripherals suggesting that he is not a product of the Coliseum illusion. Anderson would also be the youngest starting pitcher in the Orioles rotation.
Along with all this promise comes a major drawback. He has some admittedly frightening durability issues and relies mainly on his slider, which may be the source of what ails him. He is coming off Tommy John surgery after a shortened 2011 season, has never pitched more than 175 innings in a season, and even that 175 innings is a major outlier. Second place is 112. Yikes. However, Tommy John surgery is leaps and bounds better than it used to be and returns players elbows basically back to normal. Stephen Strasburg I think would agree. There's always a risk that he needs his old mechanics to succeed which could possibly lead to chronic injury problems or him being ineffective with new mechanics. It's a risk I would be willing to take for someone as young and talented as Brett Anderson and with such a delicious contract.
I will be the first to admit that the marriage of these single-lettered teams is not a good one. The O's and A's are both rebuilding and looking to tomorrow. Brett Anderson is far more likely at age 23 to be a part of Oakland's tomorrow than AJ at age 26 and two years from free agency will be of ours. The A's will unlikely want to trade a young pitcher with huge upside for a two-year rental during a non-competitive period, and a player that they would need to trade again. Theoretically, the A's could sign AJ to an extension through his prime years or even resign him at free agency. If the A's move to San Jose, it's possible they try to make a quieter version of the Miami splash and resign him as a free agent.
It's possible we would need to sweeten the deal by adding someone like L.J. Hoes who could provide a future option to fill an outfield spot. I'm just not sure the A's would find him particularly appealing but he has pretty good OBP skills and, if there is one thing that we know Moneyball, it's that BILLY BEANE CAN'T GET ENOUGH OF GUYS THAT GET ON BASE. Xavier Avery could be another option, though I don't see Beane as a guy who likes raw-talent, little-actual-skill players.
Additionally, while the A's are definitely shopping pitching, Brett Anderson has never been one of the mentioned names. Gio Gonzalez is the one on the block and the asking price is reportedly ginormoushttp://www.mlbtraderumors.com/gio_gonzalez/. Plus, the A's seem committed to him, having locked him up long-term on a four-year contract with two additional options.
The A's will also have the problem of who the hell is actually going to start for them now that they seem dead set on emptying out their rotation. I don't know the answer to this. Sorry.
Yet maybe Anderson can still be pried away. The A's extended Anderson after his rookie campaign at 3.7 fWAR in 2009. Since then, he has had constant arm trouble resulting in surgery. Perhaps a little shine has come off. Perhaps not.
A man can dream. A man can dream....