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MLB Rumors: Andrew Cashner is worth the gamble

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MLB trade rumors are flying left and right, with the trade deadline quickly approaching. The deadline this year will be Monday August 1st, and you can expect to hear plenty of rumors from now until then. And one name that will come up a lot before he gets moved is San Diego Padres starter Andrew Cashner.

Starting pitching is always a hot commodity for contenders this time of year, and this season is no exception. It seems a good number of playoff caliber teams could use an upgrade to their rotation, whether it be from ineffective performances or injuries. Some of those teams include the Texas Rangers, the Miami Marlins, the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers just to name a few.

And the Padres are certainly sellers this season. The team has already shipped fellow starting pitcher Drew Pomeranz to the Boston Red Sox, and outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. to the Toronto Blue Jays. Catcher Derek Norris, outfielder Matt Kemp, shortstop Alexei Ramirez are also among the names the Padres could dangle to other teams.

But the hottest name on the Padres roster in terms of trade chatter is clearly Cashner. Prior to his start last night in Toronto against the Blue Jays, who are also in the market for a starter, there was buzz Cashner may get scratched with a deal being close. But Cashner took the mound, potentially because team’s wanted to see Cashner one more time before pulling the trigger on a deal.

Cashner pitched a decent game. Nothing terrible but nothing too great either. He went six innings, gave up three runs with seven base runners. He managed to strike out six, but also gave up two long balls. It was a start that was on par with his current stats this season, and was nothing that should scare away potential buyers.

Now Cashner is not exactly having the best season thus far. Prior to last nights start, Cashner had gone 73 and a third innings with an ERA of 4.79 and a WHIP of 1.40. He had struck out 61 with 27 free passes, which is roughly a 2:1 K:BB ratio, which simply put should be better.

So why would teams be willing to give up a promising young prospect for an arm that has not pitched to his ability this season? Well there are multiple reasons we can point to to show he is worth the gamble for a contending team. Let’s start with the fact that he is a 29 year old pitcher who is a free agent at the end of the season. So if he performs well upon being acquired, the team can either look to extend him or let him walk with the potential of offering a qualifying offer (potential draft pick compensation). And if he struggles, then you simply let him walk and have no future obligation with him.

Then we factor in the fact he has dealt with his fair share of injuries this season. Earlier this season Cashner dealt with issues with both his neck and back, landing him on the DL for a stretch. These injuries could very well explain why his numbers are at career worsts. So let’s take a little closer look shall we.

The following numbers are Cashner’s three year average for the listed stats: ERA 3.41, WHIP 1.24, K/9 7.16, BB/9 2.63, HR/9 0.67.

As things stand this season, Cashner’s numbers look like this: ERA 4.79, WHIP 1.40, K/9 7.49, BB/9 3.31, HR/9 1.35.

Now at 29, Cashner should be in his prime, and numbers should not be regressing. An ERA that is over a full run higher than his three year average means injuries certainly played a part in his struggles. Once fully healthy, those numbers should correct themselves and rebound towards the mean. The same can be said with the amount of homers he has given up. He is giving up home runs at a rate that is double what he should be. That number will correct itself once fully healthy.

Now the key stat here to show his skills are still there is K/9. Despite pitching through injuries to his back and neck, which are injuries that would have a serious effect on a pitcher who is throwing 100 pitches a game, he is still striking guys out. His K/9 rate is actually up compared to his three year average.

So health is obviously the key concern when it comes to Cashner. He has battled injuries throughout his career, not just this season. So is he over those neck and back issues he suffered from this year? Well no one except Cashner can answer that question for sure, so let’s take a look at some of his more recent starts.

Since his return from the DL, Cashner has had five starts. His first start back, he was home against the Yankees and he threw a decent game. Six strikeouts over six innings, while giving up one earned run on a home run with eight base runners.

His next start showed he was either still suffering from something or was simply rusty. He went into Los Angeles and the Dodgers rocked him. Four home runs were his downfall, as the Dodgers put up an eight spot. But since that start on July 8th, Cashner has steadily improved.

His next two starts he threw 11 and two-thirds innings, only giving up two runs. He did not walk a batter, but struck out 17 and only allowed seven base-runners. Those starts came against potential trade partners and playoff contenders the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals.

His start last night came in Toronto against the thumping Blue Jays, who posses one of the best hitting teams in the entire league. So an average performance against them following those prior two starts tell me Cashner appears to be moving back in the right direction.

So let’s get a quick recap. We have a 29-year-old pitcher who is in his walk year that has been pitching better as of late, given he struggled with injuries earlier this season. It is very likely the Padres pull the trigger on a deal before his next start. So the question is, who will step up?

Cashner is the kind of guy who could become a difference maker come the playoffs. He is a strikeout pitcher who has untapped potential. Sure he is a gamble given his track record with injuries, but what trade isn’t a gamble? For teams that do not want to pay the price for the big time names that are Chris Sale, Chris Archer or Jose Quintana, Cashner is a solid buy.

He has All Star level talent, and only comes with a half season of contractual obligation. So when all is said and done, Andrew Cashner is certainly worth the gamble for contenders. The Baltimore Orioles, the Toronto Blue Jays, the Miami Marlins are all set to be making offers for the righty. But who will offer up the most, and land a potential difference maker?

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com