Andrew Cashner’s Stock Needs To Rise This Winter

Long time San Diego Padre pitcher Andrew Cashner signed a one-year, $10MM dollar deal with the Texas Rangers last winter. Although Cashner was expected to be one of the top young pitchers a few years ago, the deal that Cashner signed with the Rangers was one of the bigger payouts for a one-year deal. Cashner is hoping that he will be signing an even bigger contract at the end of the 2017 season as he enters free agency.

Cashner has made well on his pricey single year contract, putting in 139 2/3 innings of work. Over 23 starts, the Texas righty has posted a 3.29 ERA. The Texas organization has seen Cashner’s performance as a huge relief as his former Padre teammate Tyson Ross joined the Rangers staff last year, and has been looking for a comeback of his own since joining the team.

Cashner can hang his hat on the 2017 season if he continues to pitch well, but unfortunately for Cashner, organizations including the Texas Rangers won’t just be looking at his good production and new found health this season. They will be looking at Cashner’s full body of work.

Organizations will be scratching their heads as they delve into Cashner’s body of work. Cashner doesn’t own the shiniest K/BB, The 30-year old owns a 4.8 K/9 which ranks second lowest among all qualified starters. He also holds a iffy 3.3 BB/9. The righty struggles getting swinging strikes from batters. He holds a grim 5.7% swinging strike percentage, which isn’t only a career low for Cashner but also ranks dead last among qualified starting pitchers.

Although Cashner struggles racking up strike outs, he does however have good ground ball numbers; holding a 48.4% ground ball percentage through this point of the season. His contact management might attribute to limiting hitters to a .267 BABIP. He also holds a 28.2% hard hit rate, which ranks eighth lowest in the league. As well as controlling his contact, Cashner has brought down his home runs that were hurting him last year. If Cashner can continue bringing his home run numbers down, he could turn into a productive groundball pitcher.

In addition to what talent Cashner will be bringing to the field, organizations will also be looking at his long term durability. Cashner has dealt with arm issues in the past, and he’ll be going into his age 31 season at the beginning of 2018. Most importantly, Cashner has lost velocity on his fastball. He’s toping out at 94 MPH on his four seam, and hitting 92.9 MPH on his sinker which is a tick slower than last year.

Cashner wouldn’t be the first free agent to receive a multi-year deal after having a bounce back year. Pitchers Rich Hill and Scott Kazmir have both inked three year, $48M contracts after going through rough patches. They also carried good results and peripherals through multiple years.

It will be tough for Cashner to compete in a market that includes Lance Lynn, Marco Estrada, and  John Lackey, so the 30 year-old righty might not land a deal like Hill and Kazmir’s $48 MM three year deal.

Cashner struggles at generating swing and misses which makes a qualifying offer expected at $18.2MM unlikely. Jeremy Hellickson accepted a $17.2MM qualifying offer from the Phillies in 2016, although he did have a more impressive body of work than Cashner. The Rangers might not want to risk giving a qualifying offer to Cashner when they can secure a reduced draft pick compensation if he were to sign elsewhere. On the other hand,  both Cashner and the Rangers could agree to a multi-year deal, if Cashner turns out to be a good fit in Texas. Regardless, Cashner could expect a contract ranging from $8-12MM this winter.

While pitchers like Hill and Kazmir have bounced back from their rough patches, there still is a risk for organizations shelling out big money and not getting a good return on their investment.  For Cashner, his solid 2017 season may not be enough to turn heads of many organizations. His declining velocity on his fastball and sinker paired with his low strike out rate might be too much of a risk and will scare teams away from the 30 year-old right hander. Given Cashner’s  ground ball numbers, if he were to focus on pitching to contact, he could possibly be able to raise his stock before the end of the season.
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