Could search for rotation help lead O’s back to Andrew Cashner?

Could the Orioles’ pursuit of rotation help lead them back to signing right-hander Andrew Cashner as a free agent for the second time?

Before the 2018 season, they signed him to a two-year deal worth $16 million with an option for 2020. The Boston Red Sox acquired him from the Orioles in a trade in July and did not pick up that option. Cashner is available and can be an Oriole again.

The Birds could be encouraged to sign him when they look at how well he pitched for the Orioles last summer. Or they could be discouraged by how poorly he pitched for Boston after that deal.

Cashner-Delivers-MD-Flag-Jersey-Sidebar.jpgCashner pitched to an ERA of 5.29 two years ago in his first season in Baltimore. But reunited with his 2017 pitching coach, Doug Brocail, last season, he was much better. In 17 starts for the Orioles, he was 9-3 with a 3.83 ERA in 2019, with a 1.194 WHIP and allowed 1.0 homers per nine innings. But with Boston, he went 2-5 with a 6.20 ERA and 1.621 WHIP. He made six starts after the July 13 trade when the O’s sent him to Boston for Rookie-level Dominican Summer League players Elio Prado and Noelberth Romero. In those starts, Cashner posted an ERA of 8.01 and allowed an opponent OPS of 1.019. He didn’t make a start after Aug. 11.

When the 33-year-old Cashner pitched for Brocail with Texas in 2017, he went 11-11 with a 3.40 ERA. He ranked ninth among starters in the American League in groundball rate and seventh in pitch efficiency, needing just 15.8 pitches per inning.

Several free agent starters have already signed one-year contracts. A partial list includes Gio Gonzalez for $5 million with the Chicago White Sox, Rich Hill for $3 million with Minnesota and Michael Wacha for $3 million with the Mets. Also Brett Anderson for $5 million with Milwaukee, Iv├ín Nova for $1.5 million with Detroit and Drew Smyly for $4 million with San Francisco. Over the winter, we’ve speculated that several of these pitchers could wind up on the O’s radar.

Maybe Cashner is still on that radar and a reunion with the team and Brocail is still to come. In 23 career starts at Camden Yards, Cashner is 6-9 with a 4.56 ERA, 1.350 WHIP and 1.25 homer rate.

Another top 100: Baseball Prospectus is the latest outlet to release a top prospects list. On their top 101, catcher Adley Rutschman was No. 4, right-hander Grayson Rodriguez No. 45 and infielder/outfielder Ryan Mountcastle No. 57. They did not list lefty DL Hall, who had been ranked No. 47 by Baseball America and No. 69 by MLBPipeline.com.

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