The Blue Jays are showing “continued interest” in free-agent righty Andrew Cashner, tweets MLB.com’s Jon Morosi, though he’s one of several starters they’re eyeing. The Jays have a need for a fifth starter to round out their rotation, and Morosi suggests that they’re hoping to fill that vacancy on a one-year deal. It’s not a surprise to see the Jays (or any team, for that matter) preferring a one-year term on the free-agent market, but Cashner reportedly entered the offseason in hopes of securing a three-year pact.
It’s possible that the crawling pace of the offseason has lessened his demands to an extent, but there’s been no indication that Cashner is willing to jump on a one-year offer to date. The 31-year-old made 28 starts for the Rangers last season and posted a 3.40 ERA, albeit one that looks to be largely smoke and mirrors. Cashner’s 4.64 K/9 rate was the second-lowest in the Majors, and his 3.46 BB/9 rate was worse than the league average. Overall, his K%-BB% of just 3.1 percent was the worst of any qualified pitcher in baseball, leading fielding-independent metrics like xFIP (5.30) and SIERA (5.52) to paint an unflattering picture of his work.
The said, Cashner’s fastball averaged better than 93 mph, his 48.6 percent ground-ball rate was comfortably above the league average, and he demonstrated the home-run suppression skills he’s shown for much of his career despite a move to a hitter-friendly setting in Arlington (0.81 HR/9). Cashner did rely less on his four-seam fastball with the Ranges than he ever has in previous seasons, instead favoring more cutters/sinkers. Some clubs may believe that altering that pitch selection a bit could restore some his strikeout prowess.
The Blue Jays currently project to have Aaron Sanchez, Marcus Stroman, J.A. Happ and Marco Estrada in the top four spots of their rotation. Joe Biagini was their most frequent fifth starter in 2017, though he struggled in a move to the rotation after enjoying success as a reliever in his 2016 rookie season, when he was a Rule 5 pick. Prospect Ryan Borucki is close to big league ready and could conceivably step into the mix, though it stands to reason that the Jays would prefer to ease him into a big league job rather than throw him directly into the fire in the season’s first couple of weeks (without much of a veteran fallback option in place, should he struggle).