Cashin’ In And Movin’ On

Padres acquired 1B Josh Naylor, RHP Luis Castillo, RHP Jarred Cosart, and RHP Carter Capps from Miami Marlins in exchange for RHP Andrew Cashner, RHP Colin Rea, RHP Tayron Guerrero, and cash. 

I wrote about the Carter Capps and Jarred Cosart part of the return at Baseball Prospectus, where a quartet of other BP authors more-than-capably handled the rest of the moving parts. In short, I really like Capps, who is signed through 2018, as potential trade bait down the road. Not too high on Cosart, but as I mentioned in the article, the Padres need someone to start games, for now, and his ground ball profile and age are enough to dream on. Some closing thoughts on Cashner . . .

Once upon a time Andrew Cashner looked like a future ace. On April 11, 2014, Cashner darted his two-seamer to both sides of the plate, finishing the night with his finest Padres start—a one-hit, 11 strikeout, two walk gem against Miguel Cabrera’s Tigers. If you span two seasons, that start was part of a stretch that featured two complete game one-hitters and 10 straight outings of at least six innings and two runs or fewer allowed. It’s been mostly downhill since then.

Cashner was excellent throughout the 2014 season, but he hit the disabled list twice and ended the season with just 19 starts. In 2015 Cashner—dealing with off-field issues—pitched to a 4.34 ERA in Petco, a number that doesn’t include the 22 unearned runs he surrendered. This year it’s been more of the same—Cashner missed time with a DL stint in June and, when healthy, he’s been bad, posting his worst K:BB ratio and home run rate since his rookie season.

The talent is there, seemingly, but the results aren’t. The dominance that existed on some nights–particularly that start against Detroit–is rare these days, where Cashner generally struggles to get through six innings without a crooked number frame or two. Either way, Cashner will likely ride out at least a few more seasons in the majors, even if his struggles worsen, as a potential change-of-scenery fix. Get him into the hands of the right pitching coach or the right environment, and he’ll succeed . . . at least, that’s what teams will think, which is probably why Cashner will do just fine come free agency this offseason.

Of course, I’m not even sure I disagree with that sentiment. Cashner’s been good enough in the past—and the stuff is good enough on particular nights—that it wouldn’t be surprising if he rebounds from his recent struggles. Not sure I’d bet on it, or risk risk tens of millions of dollars to watch it unfold (or not unfold) on my ball club, but it won’t be surprising if he settles down as a high-threes ERA type, or something like that. A middle rotation bulldog type, good for six innings and two or three runs allowed on most nights—when healthy, that is. Ultimately, if the starting this doesn’t click, maybe a move back to the bullpen will allow his stuff to play up and he’ll re-find success there.

Craig Elsten perhaps said it best:

Sometimes it’s just time to move on, and the Padres didn’t have any use for Cashner through the rest of this season . . . well, besides lamenting what a Rizzo-Myers three-four combo would have meant for the current state of the organization. So they packaged him with Rea and Guerrero and got another better-than-expected return, adding more talent to a suddenly rejuvenated farm system, not to mention a couple of interesting pieces in Capps and Cosart. Give A.J. Preller credit—for a guy who seemed over his head early in his tenure, he’s started off this rebuild with the savvy of a veteran GM.

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