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Andrew Cashner Rumors
The news of the day was out of Arizona, where the Diamondbacks made a bold move to add Hall of Fame manager Tony LaRussa atop the club’s baseball operations department. Many observers hailed the move, with Jon Morosi of FOX Sports writing that the experienced and respected LaRussa could effect a “cultural overhaul” akin to that delivered to the Orioles by Buck Showalter. Of course, LaRussa’s role will be much broader than that of Showalter, and he’ll face quite a different challenge from the one that brought him to Cooperstown.
Here’s more from the D’Backs and the rest of the National League:
- The immediate reaction to LaRussa’s hiring was that embattled Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers and/or manager Kirk Gibson could be on their way out. After reporting that a further shake-up would likely not occur in the immediate future, Bob Nightengale of USA Today provided some details on the previously unknown terms of the extensions given to both of those team leaders before the start of what has turned into a trying season (via Twitter). Towers’s deal takes him through 2016, while Gibson’s contract is believed to run through 2015, says Nightengale. Of course, that does not mean that the pair is ensured to last until those pacts expire.
- If the Rockies decide to shop for pitching, the club will have plenty of teams banging on the door for a chance to add one of their top two prospect arms (Jon Gray and Eddie Butler), reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (video link). But Rosenthal says that the team is more likely to bring one or both of those power righties up, noting that the team seems to have solid rotation depth.
- Padres staff ace Andrew Cashner was placed on the 15-day DL today after experiencing discomfort and inflammation in his right elbow. As Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports, the 27-year-old says he is “not worried about my ligament at all.” Nevertheless, he will undergo a precautionary MRI on Monday. After a solid 175-inning, 3.09 ERA campaign last year, Cashner has elevated his game this year with a 2.35 ERA through 57 1/3 frames (7.4 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9). He is earning a $2.4MM salary for 2014, his first arb-eligible campaign, and should be in line for a big raise if he can stay on the mound and keep producing at those levels.
- Meanwhile, Nationals southpaw Gio Gonzalez suffered through a second-straight rough outing today, and manager Matt Williams said after the game that the club has been monitoring complaints of shoulder stiffness. As Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports, Gonzalez will undergo precautionary testing tomorrow, including an MRI. When asked if he was experiencing any health issues, Gonzalez gave a response that seems open to interpretation. “Realistically, arm was dropping a lot,” he said. “I guess we’ll see.”
- First baseman Ike Davis has regained his form at the plate since being traded to the Pirates, Jorge Arangure writes for the New York Times. Davis has compiled a .286/.383/.414 line through his first 81 plate appearances in Pittsburgh. In part, it bears noting, Davis has benefited from platoon usage: on the year, he has yet to record a hit in 15 plate appearances against same-handed pitchers, while sporting a nifty .902 OPS against righties. After several up-and-down years with the Mets, Davis said he is keeping his focus on the present and does not bear any ill-will to his former club.
Here are a few notes on the Padres, who opened the day a full three games back of the division-leading Dodgers and Giants in the National League West:
- The Pads have been one of the few MLB teams to have been burned by early-career extensions in recent years, notes Dave Cameron in a piece for FOX Sports. One issue — putting aside the injury and performance issues that have cropped up — is that San Diego has made several of its bets on players whose expected future market value (through arbitration and free agency) was simply not that high. That, in turn, limited the amount of upside (in terms of cost savings) that the team could realize through those contracts. The team's recent extension of Jedd Gyorko, Cameron argues, is of the same ilk: he is not a high-average hitter or stolen base threat, and his power is less impressive if he plays at third in the future. Cameron opines that, while the deal is not necessarily a bad contract, the team still took on significant risk without getting a real chance at landing a "huge bargain."
- Current third baseman Chase Headley, meanwhile, reportedly turned down his chance at a new deal, and looks destined for the open market at the end of the season. MLB.com's Corey Brock noted that Headley had told him late in the spring that he "just [didn't] think it was ever the right time" to strike an extension. "There's enough ground in between us to where it wasn't going to work out right now," Headley said. "We just couldn't find that common ground." As Brock explains, the likely options now for San Diego look to be a trade, qualifying offer after the year, or another run at a contract. Headley addressed the QO himself with Brock: "We weighed that [in discussions with the team] and it's not a great system for the player. You have to play six full seasons just to get to free agency. … When you get to that point in your career, I don't think it's necessarily fair to have this one shot at free agency affected by that. At some point, someone is going to take one of those." Of course, Headley added that accepting the QO is "not a bad way to go" because "that's a pretty big number for one year."
- Staff ace Andrew Cashner is showing signs that he could be developing into a true ace, writes Scott Miller for FOX Sports San Diego. Acquired from the Cubs in exchange for young slugger Anthony Rizzo, in what was a bold trade for both clubs, the 27-year-old has made clear that he wants and expects to be a dominant force. "I definitely want a no-hitter," said Cashner, calling it "one of my goals." Indeed, he has looked capable of that recently. Cashner has allowed just 10 hits and three earned runs through his first 21 innings (over three starts) in 2014, striking out 9.4 against 3.0 free passes per nine while holding opposing hitters to a .363 OPS. After re-discovering his slider last year, Cashner worked to a 2.14 ERA in the second half. As he plays out his first arb-eligible season, the big righty looks like a prime extension candidate in his own right.
This evening, Andrew Cashner of the Padres pitched six strong innings against the Dodgers, striking out five and allowing just one run in the first 2014 MLB regular-season game to take place on American soil. That led FOX Sports' Jon Morosi to wonder (via Twitter) who would ultimately win the trade that sent Cashner to the Padres and Anthony Rizzo to the Cubs. That's a question that might not be resolved anytime soon. Early on, the Cubs looked like the likely winners after Rizzo put together an excellent .285/.342/.463 season in 2012, leading to a $41MM extension early in the 2013 season. Rizzo had a disappointing 2013 season, though, and Cashner, with his terrific fastball and strong 2013 season, may be emerging as one of the National League's better young(-ish) starting pitchers. Here are more notes from the NL West.
- The Padres have about 30 percent of their payroll on the disabled list, Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. That includes Carlos Quentin ($9.5MM), Josh Johnson ($8MM), Cameron Maybin ($5MM) and Cory Luebke ($3MM). Of course, in Johnson's case, the Padres were well aware he was an injury risk before they signed him. "With Johnson, we thought the risk was worth it. That’s what we’re going to do from time to time and we have to," says Padres Executive Chairman Ron Fowler. "To balance things, we have to take some risks that other teams don’t have to take."
- The rising salaries of Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez might make 2014 their last season as Rockies teammates, Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post writes. "I want to play my entire career with CarGo, but of course I think about how it might not happen. I thought it would be the case with (Matt) Holliday, and it didn't work out," says Tulowitzki, who will make $16MM in 2014 before his salary increases to $20MM in 2015. Gonzalez will make $10.5MM in 2014 and $16MM in 2015. The Rockies say, however, that they won't need to trade either player.
With the trade that sent Andrew Cashner to the Padres and Anthony Rizzo to the Cubs now over two years distant, R.J. Anderson of Baseball Prospectus takes a look at its background and how it has played out to date. While both players have proven that their talent plays at the big league level, each still comes with questions. Nevertheless, the trade appears to have been quite an equal swap at this point, he opines.
Here's more from the National League:
- The Mets hesitation with respect to shortstop Stephen Drew relates to the team's valuations of him and internal option Ruben Tejada, reports MLB.com's Anthony DiComo. "At the numbers he's looking for," a source told DiComo, "we don't think he's worth it compared to what we have." At this point, a trade of Ike Davis is a more likely outcome than the signing of Drew, says DiComo.
- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said today that a platoon was possible at second base, a prospect that Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times questions. Both Alexander Guerrero and Dee Gordon — the two likely platoon options — are converting from shortstop, and each brings lots of uncertainty to the table. Guerrero, the club's most expensive offseason acquisition, has reportedly had some struggles moving to the other side of the bag, but putting his right-handed bat in a platoon role would significantly limit his plate appearances.
- In spite of a resoundingly successful 2013 campaign, Pirates GM Neal Huntington and manager Clint Hurdle will both go into the season without a contractual assurance that they'll be around for another. As Rob Biertempfel of the PIttsburgh Tribune-Review reports, Owner Bob Nutting said today that extensions for the two are not a major priority, though he indicated that he'd be amenable to talks at the right time. "What they've done for the organization in good and bad times really is tremendous," said Nutting, "and I hope they're with the organization for a long time. My expectation is they're going to be critically important pieces of this organization as we go forward."
- Nutting also indicated that the Pirates would still consider giving up a draft pick to sign a free agent, Biertempfel further reports. "Certainly nothing is off the table," he said. "But at the same time, we need to recognize that a first-round draft pick is a meaningful source of talent for a team like the Pirates. We want to be smart and cautious." The Bucs have spoken with first baseman/designated hitter Kendrys Morales, Biertempfel notes, though the extent of the team's interest remains unknown.
Starting pitcher Andrew Cashner has won his arbitration case against the Padres, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports (via Twitter). Cashner will make $2.4MM in 2014. The Padres had offered $2.275MM, so the difference between the two figures was relatively small, but Cashner's victory should still help him bump his salary up slightly in future seasons. Cashner is represented by CAA Sports.
2014 is Cashner's first year of arbitration eligibility, and he's eligible for free agency after the 2016 season. The righty posted a 3.09 ERA with 6.6 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 175 innings for the Padres in 2013.
Current Cubs president of baseball operations and former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein covered a range of subjects in a fascinating interview on WEEI's Hot Stove Show on Thursday (audio link; transcript). In addition to discussing the two clubs he has headed from a baseball ops perspective, Epstein emphasized the impact of changes to the CBA. The new system has both reduced teams' abilities to reap draft picks from outgoing free agents, Epstein said, and made it difficult to pay for hard-to-sign talent in later draft rounds. Here's more from around the league, including other notable talking points from Epstein:
- Discussing his current club's reported pursuit of Masahiro Tanaka, Epstein noted that the pitcher likely cost the Yankees more in real terms than the team's $175MM contract and release fee commitment, once the collective bargaining tax is accounted for. The signing, said Epstein, "reflects the dynamic that there are many, many teams with lots and lots of dollars to spend and very few places to spend them, very few players who represent sound investments for the dollars."
- "There are lots of teams demanding talented, prime-age players, and supply is really a trickle," Epstein continued. "Fewer and fewer players of that ilk are reaching free agency. … You're going to see these prices that cause people to shake heads. … Because of the TV deals, the teams that have them have a lot of money and not a lot of attractive players to spend the money on." Indeed, as I explored earlier tonight, some teams' desires to use free cash to enhance the value of their player assets (i.e., control and contract rights) could result in increasingly robust contracts for some younger players that remain years away from free agency.
- One player that seems suitable for an attractive, long-term investment is Yoenis Cespedes of the Athletics. Fresh on the heels of today's extension of teammate Coco Crisp, Cespedes said that he, too, hopes to ink a new pact, tweets John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. The 28-year-old slugger, who still has two years remaining on the deal he signed out of Cuba, said that he hopes to play for the A's for his entire career. Of course, given his relative youth, upside, and high profile, Cespedes figures to command a much higher price than the $22.75MM over two years just given to Crisp. It remains to be seen whether the A's will be willing to dangle a sufficient guarantee to get a deal done.
- Turning back to the aforementioned Tanaka, Yankees GM Brian Cashman told ESPN Radio today (via ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand) that the club views its new acquisition as "a really solid, consistent number three starter." Cashman noted that, though the club scouted Tanaka extensively, uncertainty remains as to how he will transition to the big leagues. "If we get more than that," Cashman said, "all the better. He's got a great deal of ability."
- Two arbitration hearings took place today, after none occurred last year. Andrew Cashner of the Padres and Vinnie Pestano of the Indians both made their cases to their respective panels. Cashner and the Padres are quite close in filing numbers ($2.4MM against $2.275MM), while Pestano ($1.45MM) and the Indians ($975K) left a larger absolute and relative sum to chance.
- Glancing in at MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker, 16 cases remain unsettled as hearings begin to take place. By my count, just over $23MM remains at stake between the player filings ($79.325MM total) and team counters ($56.15MM). Only the Indians, with Justin Masterson, Michael Brantley, and Josh Tomlin (in addition to Pestano), have more than one outstanding arbitration case.
Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune will continue his weekly reader chats and a few other ongoing projects for the paper, but otherwise, Center is retiring after a 47-year career. All the best wishes to a veteran baseball scribe whose name has regularly appeared on MLB Trade Rumors over the years. Here are a few Padres-related hot stove notes and more from Center's latest online chat with fans…
- Andrew Cashner and the Padres are just $125K apart on the price of Cashner's 2014 contract (the righty asked for $2.4MM, the team offered $2.275MM) and as of today, the two sides are set to go to an arbitration hearing. Center figurs the reason Cashner and the team couldn't come to an agreement over such a relatively small gap is because the two sides are working on a long-term contract. Cashner, 27, has two more years of arbitration eligibility left after this offseason and is scheduled for free agency following the 2016 season. Padres general manager Josh Byrnes told MLBTR's Steve Adams during the GM Meetings last November that a Cashner extension was "certainly a possibility" for the team this offseason.
- The Padres are set for starting pitching and aren't likely to make a play for Bronson Arroyo, even though Center "imagine[s] his price is dropping rapidly."
- The Padres signed Joaquin Benoit to a two-year, $15.5MM deal this offseason, the type of large expenditure on a reliever who isn't expected to close (if Huston Street remains healthy) that you wouldn't expect from a smaller-market team like San Diego. Center likes the move, however, feeling it was the type of move a contender makes. Center feels the bullpen "could push the Padres over the top" in 2014.
- The crowded Padres bullpen, however, will make it harder for left-hander Patrick Schuster to make the team. Schuster was the first pick of this year's Rule 5 draft, selected by the Astros off the Diamondbacks' roster, and Houston then dealt Schuster to the Padres to complete the Anthony Bass trade. As per the Rule 5 regulations, Schuster must remain on the Padres' Major League roster all season, or else San Diego must offer him back to Arizona for $25K (or work out a trade with the D'Backs).
"It's certainly a possibility," Padres general manager Josh Byrnes told MLBTR at the GM Meetings when asked whether or not the team would have interest in approaching Andrew Cashner about a long-term deal. "I think that, in a market like ours, or really in most markets, when a guy has proven that he has a chance to be a core guy, the early deal makes some sense. There's always risk with that, and we've felt that on certain deals that we've done."
Cashner enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2013, remaining healthy for a full season for the first time in his Major League career. The 27-year-old totaled 175 innings and posted a strong 3.09 ERA with 6.6 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a healthy 52.5 percent ground-ball rate. His fastball velocity — which averaged a strong 94.5 mph on the season — actually trended upward at season's end, and he finished particularly strong. In his final seven starts, the 2008 first-rounder posted a 1.22 ERA with an outstanding 45-to-7 K/BB ratio. Cashner lasted at least seven innings in each of those starts and added his first career shutout in the process. He projects to earn $2.4MM in arbitration this winter, per MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz.
Cashner won't be the only pitching-related issue that the Padres face this offseason, though, and they'll likely be looking outside the organization to address their need for left-handed pitching. "I think we have to keep all avenues open, including trading for a guy," said Byrnes. "We're feeling good. There's a lot of guys out there we like, whether it's through trades or free agency. It's just a matter of getting one or two."
Byrnes balked at the idea of issuing a multiyear deal to a free agent lefty, noting the rarity of multiyear deals for relievers in his tenure as a GM and stating, "It's probably something I would vote against." Indeed, as MLBTR's Transaction Tracker shows, Byrnes has guaranteed multiple years to just two relievers: Huston Street and Randy Choate. In the latter's case, he received a mere two-year, $1.3MM extension — certainly not a feasible free agent price on a multiyear deal in today's free agent market — shortly after Byrnes' initial hiring by the Diamondbacks in 2005. Byrnes and his staff will have a strong crop of free agent lefties to choose from, as this year's class is highlighted by Javier Lopez, J.P. Howell, Boone Logan, Scott Downs and Matt Thornton.
One area of the pitching staff in which Byrnes feels comfortable is its depth. He noted that Joe Wieland is throwing in the Arizona Fall League and Cory Luebke has begun throwing off a mound. On adding that tandem to the starting options he had in September, Byrnes said: "Put them back in the mix… we finished the year with a six-man rotation… and our rotation's best month was September with all six really throwing the ball well. I'd love to go in [to 2014] and say we actually have a surplus, which is possible."
Chase Headley's status with the team will undoubtedly be one of the biggest issues for the Padres this offseason, but Byrnes maintained that there's no real update at this time, and Headley could still be extended, traded or retained through the arbitration process. He was quick to note, however, that the Padres view Headley as more than a simple asset to cash in for future assets, as he's important to their 2014 outlook: "Putting him into a team context… we've worked hard to put a good offense together. Our pitching's caught up, and if our position players are all there, I think we do feel like in 2014, a healthier team that's going to take a real step forward."
That 2014 team will be one that doesn't include former bench coach Rick Renteria on the field staff or special assistant Brad Ausmus in the front office. Each has landed a managerial job in recent weeks, with Ausmus being hired by the Tigers and Renteria being hired by the Cubs. Asked if it was bittersweet to see them go, Byrnes offered high praise for each: "They were two guys who added a lot. It's kind of neat to see them both get opportunities, but it's a loss. And there's probably a chance we'll lose more staff that would go with them. I hate to say 'bittersweet.' We're going to miss them, so that's the bitter part, but for them to fill a career goal, both in great situations, we're very happy for them."
At one point, the Dodgers might have been two days away from firing manager Don Mattingly, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times writes. That was on June 21, when the Dodgers were 30-42 following their second straight loss to the Padres. Shaikin cites a source saying that if the Dodgers had lost the last two games of that four-game series, they would have dismissed Mattingly. Since then, the Dodgers have got 46-11, and Mattingly appears to be a contender for the NL Manager of the Year award. Here are more notes from out west.
- For the Angels, one of the few bright sides of an awful season is that they now have the opportunity to see which of their zero-to-three players can help in the near future, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez writes. Gonzalez notes that, with several big contracts (Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson) consuming much of their payroll, it's particularly important that the Angels get value out of cost-controlled players. The Angels will look to players like Grant Green, Chris Nelson and Cory Rasmus (all of whom were acquired this year) to see if they might be able to contribute.
- Padres pitcher Andrew Cashner and Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo have become friends since being traded for each other in early 2012, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Rizzo says he's rooting for a win-win deal. "I hope [Cashner] has a great career; I hope I have a great career as well," Rizzo says. "There’s no winning or losing this trade. … I hope we both have Hall of Fame careers and everyone’s a winner.”
Epifanio "Epi" Guerrero, one of the key figures in the history of Dominican baseball, passed today at age 71. Guerrero signed a number of notable international talents (including Cesar Cedeno, Carlos Delgado and Tony Fernandez) while working in the Astros, Yankees, Blue Jays and Brewers organizations as a scout and coach during a career that began in 1965. Guerrero was one of the first scouts to be involved in the development of the academy system that gave countless young Dominican prospects chances at a professional career. We here at MLBTR extend our condolences to Guerrero's friends and family on his passing.
Here are some news items from around the baseball world…
- While it has been assumed that the Cardinals will part ways with Carlos Beltran after this season, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch thinks both Beltran and the Cardinals could benefit from Beltran re-signing a short-term contract, provided the veteran was willing to take a hometown discount. While Miklasz has a point that Beltran is a surer thing to produce for a contender than youngsters like Oscar Taveras or Matt Adams, I would be surprised if Beltran returned to St. Louis in 2014. If the Cards were confident enough in their young talent to let Albert Pujols and Kyle Lohse go, they'll do with the same with Beltran.
- The Diamondbacks may not need to make any major moves before the trade deadline, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal writes. The Snakes have depth at several positions and further reinforcements are coming as some injured players return from the disabled list. The only possible area of need could be at closer given J.J. Putz's elbow problems but GM Kevin Towers is "100% confident" that Putz will recover.
- The Mariners talked with Jesus Montero about a long-term contract before he was linked to the Biogenesis scandal, but nothing came of those conversations, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets. Earlier today, the M's demoted the 23-year-old to Triple-A.
- If MLB announces that an international draft will take place in 2014, Baseball America's Ben Badler notes that teams like the Rangers, Yankees, Cardinals or Reds (who are likely to pick near the end of that draft's first round) could be wise to exceed the spending cap on international prospects this year. Such teams would lose their 2014 or '15 international draft first-rounder for going over the cap, but it could be worth it to get a jump on the non-American/Canadian talent market.
- MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo profiles some of the top corner infielders in the upcoming amateur draft, a list led by University of San Diego third baseman Kris Bryant.
- ESPN's Keith Law discusses draft prospects, minor leaguers and other moves from around the game in a live chat with fans.
- Andrew Cashner is making great strides as a starting pitcher for the Padres, MLB.com's Corey Brock writes. Cashner has a 2.80 ERA in six starts for the Friars in 2013 after being limited to mostly bullpen work over his first three seasons due to injuries and concerns about his arm strength. If Cashner develops into a solid starter, it will obviously give the Padres a much greater return on the Anthony Rizzo trade from January 2012.
- The Rays' pitching depth is the envy of baseball, MLB.com's Bill Chastain writes, and that depth at the Major League level gives all their minor league arms time to properly develop into the club's next generation of rotation stalwarts.
MLBTR's Zach Links contributed to this post