With the Orioles looking to add an inexpensive veteran arm to their rotation, Andrew Cashner is “one of the free agents under consideration,” MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko writes. GM Mike Elias said on Saturday that the O’s would be more likely to acquire a Major League starter through free agency than through the trade market, and Kubatko recently reported that the Orioles were looking at adding a starter on a one-year contract.
There is no shortage of familiarity between Cashner and the O’s, as the right-hander pitched for the team in both 2018 and 2019 before being traded to the Red Sox last July. Cashner originally signed a two-year, $16MM deal in the 2017-18 offseason and posted a 4.73 ERA, 1.76 K/BB rate, 6.0 K/9 over his 249 1/3 innings in the orange-and-black. Those numbers line up with Cashner’s overall inconsistent performance over the last five seasons, as his low-strikeout, grounder-heavy (except in his aberration of a 2018 season that saw him post a career-worst 40.4% ground ball rate) arsenal leads to a lot of variance.
Cashner was pitching pretty well for Baltimore in 2019, however, posting a 3.83 ERA over 96 1/3 innings after largely removing his sinker from his mix of pitches. After being dealt to Boston, however, Cashner posted an 8.01 ERA over six starts before being moved to the bullpen for his first extended dose of relief work since 2012. Between the start of the 2013 season and the end of that six-start stint for the Red Sox, Cashner started 182 of 188 games pitched.
As expected, the Red Sox declined their $10MM club option on Cashner for the 2020 season, and the righty’s trip into free agency hasn’t resulted in much buzz. It could be that any interested teams are perhaps waiting until later in the offseason or during Spring Training to fully access their rotation options before signing a pitcher that projects best as a depth option at this point in his career.
The 33-year-old Cashner does offer a fair amount of durability at the back of a rotation, as he has averaged 157 IP over the last five seasons. There isn’t much certainty within a projected Orioles rotation that consists of John Means, Alex Cobb, Asher Wojciechowski, and several younger options vying for the final two slots, so bringing a veteran innings-eater like Cashner could help matters. There’s also a chance that returning to Camden Yards could help Cashner regain his form from early 2019, and perhaps make him a candidate for another deadline trade this summer.