The Texas Rangers signed right-handed pitcher Andrew Cashner to a one-year, $10 million deal on Friday November 18th. Coming off of his worst season as a pro, Cashner looks to get his once promising career back on track with the defending American League West champs. The 30-year-old starter figures to settle into the middle of Texas’ rotation behind Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish.
Once a highly touted first round pick for the Chicago Cubs, Cashner was traded to the San Diego Padres, along with Kyung-Min Na, for Zach Cates and current Chicago slugger Anthony Rizzo back in the 2012 offseason. He was with the Padres up until the 2016 trade deadline, when he was traded to the Miami Marlins with Tayron Guerrero, Colin Rea, and cash for Luis Castillo, Josh Naylor, Carter Capps, and Jarred Cosart.
It has been an up-and-down (mostly down) career for Cash since then; one that has been plagued by injury, depreciating skill, and a collection of poor supporting casts. His seven years in the bigs have yielded just 726.1 total innings pitched, and he has topped 20 starts in a season just 3 times. Those 726.1 innings have produced a 31-53 record in 202 appearances (109 starts) with a 3.89 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, and a 2.38 strikeout-to-walk ratio. That 3.89 ERA might not look too bad until you consider that over the past two seasons it has been 4.72 with a 1.48 WHIP.
His peripherals have declined as well. Cashner has never posted the strikeout percentage that his raw stuff suggests that he could, and in 2016 his walk rate was a ghastly career high of 12.5%, his swinging strike rate dipped to a career low of 7.3%, and he lost a full tick off of his fastball velocity.
That all being said, before trashing Cashner about his shortcomings, it would be unfair to not mention the laundry list of injuries he has dealt with over his career that include:
- strained rotator cuff
- strained latissimus dorsi
- complications resulting from scar tissue from the lat injury
- cut hand in a hunting accident
- various elbow, shoulder, neck, and hamstring strains
Regardless, the declines in the peripheral stats are alarming, and may suggest that Andrew Cashner’s ace-potential skills are rapidly depreciating. The Rangers are a well-run organization that should be a contender for at least a few years, there won’t be any pressure on him to be an ace, and he’s going back to his home state of Texas, so a new start with the Rangers could be just what Cash needs to finally realize his potential that he flashed between 2013-2014. In those years, he threw 298.1 innings of a 2.87 ERA and 1.13 WHIP with a 2.91 K/BB ratio and an ERA+ of 119 (where 100 is league average). If Andrew Cashner can come anywhere close to the brilliance he previewed in 2013-2014, he would very much be a welcome addition to a Texas rotation that “boasted” a 4.38 cumulative ERA, the third-worst in the American League. This is all being said before I even mention that he will be pitching to Jonathan Lucroy, who is known as one of the best pitch-framers in the game. It is worth noting, however, that Globe Park will be the most hitter-friendly home park he has had so far, and also that lineups are tougher in the American League compared to the National League. So, a rebound will certainly not be easy.