Now that the dust has settled around the Manny Machado trade rumors the Baltimore Orioles are ready to turn their attention to the 2018 season. Today they reached an agreement with free agent right-hander Andrew Cashner on a two-year deal worth $16 million overall, according to Roch Kabuto of MASN.
Cashner, 31, will be pitching for his 5th different team as he enters his 9th season in the major leagues. The former first-round pick has had a helter-skelter career riddled with injuries and inconsistency on the mound. He has never thrown more than 185 innings in a season, most recently due to reoccurring problems with his bicep muscles. However, when Cashner is healthy he is capable of being a strong third or fourth starter in a starting rotation.
Last season with the Rangers Cashner went 11-11, posting a 3.40 ERA in 166.2 innings pitched. It was a solid rebound season at a time in his career when he needed it most. Cashner’s production improved and, perhaps more importantly, only had one short stint on the disabled list with an oblique injury.
While his ERA and innings pitched improved some of Cashner’s other numbers noticeably declined, once again lending to the helter-skelter nature of his career. His strikeout numbers took a sharp dive in 2017, as he only recorded 86 strikeouts while surrendering 64 walks. The walk total was the second highest of his career (he allowed 66 in 2015) but that wasn’t the only alarming change in his numbers. In 2017 Cashner threw 10 wild pitches and also recorded 9 hit batsmen, both were career highs for him. This combined with the dip in strikeouts and raised walk total suggest that Cashner struggled with his command last season. The 6-foot-6 right-hander is still a hard thrower, with his fastball averaging around 93-96 mph throughout the season, according to FanGraphs. The velocity is still there but Cashner will have to regain his command if he wants to be effective as a starter.
The Orioles desperately needed depth in their starting rotation and Cashner is a fine candidate to give them that. Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy were the only dependable starters that Baltimore had heading into the 2018 season, so Cashner is a nice pickup for a team starved of starting pitching depth. Should Cashner be able to stay healthy and sort out his command issues then this low-risk move can certainly yield a high reward for the Baltimore Orioles.