FRIDAY, 12:37am: Texas isn’t landing Cashner, sources tell MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan (via Twitter). That would seem to leave the Marlins in position to finalize an agreement, and SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets the Fish are indeed getting closer to striking a deal.
THURSDAY, 11:29pm: The Marlins and Rangers are the two “current leaders” to acquire righty Andrew Cashner from the Padres, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Miami is “pushing hard to finalize” a swap that would send multiple prospects to San Diego for the much-needed starter, per MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro (via Twitter), though it seems as if there’s still competition for his services.
We’ve long heard of interest from a wide variety of clubs in the pending free agent, who seems among the likeliest trade pieces in all of baseball. The Orioles were said to be making a push to strike a deal on Cashner just yesterday, but now seem to be behind in the sweepstakes. Other contenders who have been linked include the Blue Jays and Giants.
Recent reports have suggested that the Pads were nearing a deal for Cashner at various points in time, but he remains in San Diego at present. That probably worked out to the benefit of his current team, as the up-and-down righty has put together his best work of the season over his last three outings, permitting five runs and running up 23 strikeouts against just three walks over 17 2/3 frames.
Still, on the year he’s carrying only a 4.76 ERA with 7.6 K/9 against 3.4 BB/9 over 79 1/3 frames. Some home run troubles (16.0% HR/flyball rate) haven’t helped, and Cashner has also posted a career-worst 7.3% swinging striker rate with a slightly declining (but still-strong) average four-seam velocity of 94 mph.
Despite his rocky results, Cashner currently holds the fifth spot on MLBTR’s top trade candidate ranking. That’s due not only to his oft-noted talent, but also to San Diego’s aggressive selling posture, which has already resulted in deals for James Shields, Fernando Rodney, and Melvin Upton. There’s an argument to be made that Cashner is the most appealing rental starter currently available; Rich Hill has unquestionably been better, but also hasn’t pitched much of late, while Jeremy Hellickson arguably doesn’t have quite the ceiling of the other two.
Cashner is earning a relatively modest $7.15MM salary this year, so he’s just as affordable in terms of salary as Hill and Hellickson. In theory, the Pads could hold onto him and hope that he pitches well enough down the stretch to warrant a qualifying offer, but it seems that ship has sailed at this point — particularly with the starting pitching market seemingly primed for sellers to receive strong returns.