Though the Orioles aren’t offering up names of pitchers who are targeted in free agency, there’s definite interest in Andrew Cashner and left-hander Jason Vargas to plug holes in a rotation with only two returning starters.
MLBTradeRumors.com predicted that Cashner will receive a two-year, $20 million contract from the Athletics. Past injuries and a decrease in fastball velocity are marks against him, and he’s a pitch-to-contact guy, while the Orioles could use the strikeouts. He averaged 3.5 walks and 4.6 strikeouts per nine innings this year with the Rangers. However, he registered a 3.40 ERA in 166 2/3 innings, he’s only 31, he’s affordable to the Orioles and he can be considered an upgrade.
Cashner had a lousy June with a 6.14 ERA and 1.773 WHIP in four starts over 22 innings. However, he posted ERAs of 2.93 in April, 2.92 in May, 2.36 in July and 2.76 in August.
The 1.696 WHIP in April tells more of the story, with 13 hits and 13 walks in 15 1/3 innings.
Opponents hit .170 against Cashner with runners in scoring position this season.
The Orioles have shown interest in Vargas in previous years and nothing has changed except his age. He turns 35 in February.
MLBTradeRumors.com projected that the Orioles will sign Vargas to a one-year, $10 million contract. Former executive Jim Duquette, now part of the MLB Network Radio crew, said Vargas will sign with the Orioles for two years and $24 million.
Can Vargas squeeze a second year out of a team despite his age and 6.38 ERA and 1.595 WHIP after the break? The Orioles will find out exactly what he’s seeking.
Left-handers have batted .265 against Vargas in his career, but they posted a .311 average in 2017.
* Various people in the organization continue to talk up catcher Austin Wynns, as if it’s a certainty that he will remain with them in 2018.
Wynns must be placed on the 40-man roster later this month or be left exposed in the Rule 5 draft. Does the praise for him suggest that the Orioles will do it or they’re banking on teams passing on him?
They have the space and Wynns could be the first man up from Triple-A Norfolk if a replacement is needed for Caleb Joseph or Chance Sisco. And he’d be allowed to compete for a job in spring training despite the likelihood that the Orioles break camp with Joseph and Sisco.
Welington Castillo’s decision yesterday to decline the $7 million option on his contract increases Wynns’ value.
* The Rawlings Gold Glove winners will be announced tonight at 9 p.m. on ESPN.
Third baseman Manny Machado is the only Oriole among the finalists, going up against the Rays’ Evan Longoria and the Indians’ José Ramírez in the American League.
The Orioles failed to claim a Gold Glove last year for the first time since 2010. They had multiple winners in four consecutive seasons before 2015, when Machado earned his second award.
Machado won a Gold Glove and Platinum Glove, given to the league’s best overall defensive player, in 2013.
Ramírez appeared in only 88 games at third base. He played 71 games at second base. In my rankings, he’s going to come in third. However, he’s probably top five in Most Valuable Player voting in the American League.
Machado committed 14 errors in 156 games and registered a .967 fielding percentage in 425 chances. He also had a 4.7 ultimate zone rating (UZR) that ranked third in the league per FanGraphs and six defensive runs saved (DRS) that also ranked third.
Longoria was second in DRS with 11 behind the Athletics’ Matt Chapman (19). He committed 12 errors and registered a .968 fielding percentage in 375 chances.
Gold Glove winners are selected by a vote of major league managers and coaches, accounting for 75 percent, as well as the SABR Defensive Index.
* I wrote over the weekend that Orioles advance scouting coordinator Ben Werthan was hired by the Phillies to serve as their minor league player information coordinator. His first day on the job was Nov. 1.
I had a chance over the weekend to speak with Werthan about his decision to change organizations and responsibilities.
“It’s a little different. There are a few different aspects,” he said. “No. 1, it’s centered on the player development side, which I haven’t gotten quite as much exposure to being here. It’s definitely a new challenge in regard to that and I think there’s a lot of room for professional growth and development on my part because it’s a new side of the game that I haven’t had too much exposure to up close.
“The other unique aspect of the opportunity is that I’ll have a chance to be in uniform some of the time. Seeing the game through the lens of the dugout and the coach’s perspective was actually something I got to do in South Korea and Japan during the WBC and I think I’ll benefit from seeing more of that.”
There’s a certain level of comfort for Werthan in a Phillies organization with a host of former Orioles, including Andy MacPhail, Matt Klentak, Ned Rice, Joe Jordan and Scott Proefrock.
“There’s definitely a strong contingent,” he said. “I was lucky enough at the beginning of my career with the Orioles to overlap with a handful of those guys. It is easier knowing that there are such quality people there. It doesn’t make it any easier leaving the high quality people that are around Baltimore. That’s really where the difficulty comes into this.
“The opportunity that Buck (Showalter), Dan (Duquette) and Brady (Anderson) have given me over the last seven years, and the trust that they put in me to help build and produce our advance scouting system, they put a lot of trust in me and my co-workers, Mike Silverman and Ben Sussman, who have been incredible to work with, too. So while I know there are such quality people over there, it’s really tough leaving the group we have here.”
Werthan discussed the offer with Showalter before accepting it.
“I started with the Orioles as an intern in 2011 and I’ve been with a couple of organizations and I knew coming in that Buck was a demanding guy, but I had never met him and didn’t really know what to expect,” Werthan said. “The environment that he’s created, kind of the culture he’s fostered here has allowed me to grow in an incredible way. I could have never anticipated having the perspective I have on the game now when I first game to the Orioles seven years ago.
“There’s nothing like sitting in an office with Buck and the other coaches postgame and kind of just hitting on all the little observational points that I think get lost in the shuffle a lot during the course of a major league game. It’s just those little conversations that have really helped me grow and I think develop a more critical eye for the game.”
* And finally, wishing a speedy recovery to former Orioles second baseman Rich Dauer, who sustained a head injury during a fall at his home after the Astros won the World Series. Dauer serves as their first base coach.
Dauer slipped on a wet floor in his bathroom and hit his head. He suffered a blood clot to his brain and underwent emergency surgery at Houston Methodist Hospital immediately after the parade celebration.
“Surgery was successful with many answered prayers and coach Dauer is on the road to recovery,” the Astros wrote in a press release.
The Orioles inducted Dauer into their Hall of Fame in 2012. He played on the 1983 team that delivered the last World Series title to Baltimore.