DALLAS - While slightly better for the Rangers in the first couple of months of the season, it’s no secret that the Texas rotation was a problem for them down the stretch. Their depth, which was already a question for them coming into the season, didn’t hold up after the trade of Yu Darvish to the Dodgers. Cole Hamels started showing signs of aging and deterioration down the stretch, and the man we’re talking about today was thrust into the #2 starter role.
Would You or Wouldn’t You: Re-Sign Andrew Cashner?
Andrew Cashner will be going into his age 31-season. During his one season with the Rangers, he compiled an 11-11 record with a 3.40 ERA. Yes, he opened the season on the disabled list with biceps tendinitis and had one more stint mid-season with an oblique strain, but Cashner still made 28 starts, pitching 166.2 innings.
He certainly pitched better than he had in his last two seasons with San Diego and Miami. On a one-year contract, Cashner’s goal was to rebuild his value to land one more big contract. Is that going to be with the Rangers?
Why You Would: As stated, Cashner pitched better than he had since 2014. He re-discovered and relied heavily on his cutter over 2017. With the “Pitch to Contact” philosophy of the pitching staff under Doug Brocail, Cashner is the one who took that ball and ran with it. He recorded his highest contact rate at 85% and lowest strikeout rate at just over 12%, but was still able to find success in his outings. Despite the occasional clunker here and there, Cashner lasted an average of 6.0 innings per start with a 64% Quality Start ratio.
With the announcement that Doug Brocail’s club option was picked up for 2018, Cashner may opt to stick with the pitching coach that helped him revamp his success. That’s already an in that you have without having to woo a free agent starting pitcher further. Couple that with the Conroe native enjoying pitching closer to home, and there’s already a convincing case for the big righty to want to come back.
There are also three spots to fill in the rotation. Would you want Cashner as your number two, or, pending how Cole Hamels’ body holds up, your number one? No, that wouldn’t be optimal in a year in which Jon Daniels has said that the team intends on contending. But if the team happens to land either Shohei Ohtani or Yu Darvish – or both – and you can have Cashner as your number four or five, that would be a solid weapon to have.
Why You Wouldn’t: In Stage Construction class in college, we were taught to make a cut list for the lumber we would need to assemble a set piece. From a long piece of wood, you were supposed to cut the larger pieces you needed before the smaller pieces. Shohei Ohtani and Yu Darvish should probably take a higher slot in the priority list than Andrew Cashner.
Rangers had Opening Day payroll of $165 million..... Trades and free agents leaving should slice $55 million for off-season flexibility— TR Sullivan (@Sullivan_Ranger) September 28, 2017
Most of this extra $55 million should go towards Darvish and Ohtani. Even though it won’t cost that much to sign Ohtani for 2018, most of any money for the Japanese Superstar is going to be paid out in 2019 and beyond.
Likewise, Cashner’s not going to settle for another one-year deal. In fact, Cashner may want more years than Texas would be willing to hand out. At this stage in his career, Cashner might be looking for a five to six year deal. Personally, I wouldn’t go longer than three years with an option for Cashner, a 30+ year-old with an extensive injury history.
Cashner also made $10 million this year and amassed a 4.6 WAR. If you buy into the FanGraphs idea that one Win Above Replacement was worth $10.5 million, then Cashner well outperformed his contract. According to that FanGraphs article, one WAR might be worth around $11.1 million, which means that Cashner is going to command a pretty decent penny for some team.
Statistically speaking, remember the contact and strikeout rate from earlier. Success with an 85% contact rate isn’t sustainable by any stretch of the imagination. A .267 BABIP against suggests a huge amount of luck (especially considering that .300 is average and Cashner, for his career is averaging .294), and as “in transition” as the Rangers’ defense is going to be (who’s manning third, first, center, right and how will Odor rebound), that’s not something you want to bet a large amount of dollars or years.
Would you extend a Qualifying Offer to Cashner? The Qualifying Offer for 2017 Free Agents is 1 year, $17.4 million. If you get the Andrew Cashner you got in 2017, then $17.4 million isn’t a big deal for 1 year. There are no guarantees of that, however. I’d liken the deal to Jeremy Hellickson and the Phillies.
Hellickson came off of a strong 2015, at 12-10 and a 3.71 ERA, making all 32 starts that year. The Phillies gave him a Qualifying Offer, he accepted it, and fronted a rebuilding rotation. The results weren’t as stellar and Philadelphia traded him to Baltimore, where he was worse. That’s the risk you run if Cashner accepts the Qualifying Offer.
Still, the Rangers are going to need a Major League-proven arm, especially to cushion the number of pitchers before they hit their lackluster Minor League depth.
What would I do? I WOULD re-sign Andrew Cashner – with the caveat that he still has to be available after the Ohtani and Darvish drama is finished. I WOULD also tender a Qualifying Offer to Cashner to thin the playing field and reduce the chances that he’s off the board by the time January rolls around. Cashner is likely to go for more years at a lower average annual value.
For what it's worth, T.R. Sullivan reported that it's likely the Rangers will extend the qualifying offer to Cashner but he's expected to decline in pursuit of a long term deal after settling for a one-year deal with Texas last winter. Should this transpire, the Rangers would receive a compensatory draft pick at the end of the second round next June.
So what would you do? Send your wildest contract proposals to Matt on Twitter @FisherWritesMLB.
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