Another domino is about to fall in the free-agent pitching market. The market would make tapioca look exciting, yes, but someone has to throw innings for baseball teams, and the Rangers have decided to have Andrew Cashner throw some of those innings for them.
Cashner has spent most of his time with the Padres and was traded to the Marlins around the trade deadline. Good 2013 and 2014 campaigns were followed up by a 2015 that saw a downward trend and then a 2016 that was a minor disaster. His strikeouts per nine fell while his walk rate in the other direction. His 12 appearances with the Marlins went even worse.
But, because of the state of the open market, Cashner was one of the more interesting options. His big fastball has always made him appealing — and, indeed, he’s experienced success for some time. But injuries have derailed him of late and a fastball that once averaged 96 mph is down to 94, per Brooks Baseball.
Cashner will also be working at Globe Life Park, which is one of the better hitter’s parks in the game. He’s spent the majority of his career in pitcher’s parks in San Diego and Miami, and he posted by far his highest HR/9 since his 50-inning stint with the Cubs in 2010. There’s a lot of potential for explosive results, especially given that Cashner will now be pitching in the league that makes use of the DH.
Of course, the Rangers already have Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish fronting their rotation, so they can somewhat afford to have Cashner at the bottom. The $10 million they’ll be paying him for a year is about a drop in the bucket and a fair rate for a roughly league average or lower pitcher that they’re hoping Cashner can be. Texas also has fair depth options in Chi Chi Gonzalez, Yohander Mendez, Nick Martinez and others. It’s also possible that Cashner could wind up in the bullpen if starting doesn’t go according to plan. His fastball should be able to play back up in short stints if nothing else, and all of a sudden the Rangers could have themselves yet another useful relief option.
Thankfully, the Rangers will also probably let Cashner grow his big bushy beard back out. Don Mattingly‘s no-facial hair policy in Miami robbed it from us, and the results were, uh…
Please, Texas. Let Cashner rock the beard again. It’s the least you can do. You can see the pain in his eyes in Miami. You can see the pain in his mullet. Let him have the beard back.