Padres Editorial: Can Andrew Cashner be the Padres Closer?

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Credit: UT San Diego
Credit: UT San Diego

At the conclusion of another tough season for Andrew Cashner, the right hander’s career is now at a crossroads. At last year’s trade deadline, Cashner, among many other Padres, was at the center of various trade discussions. Going into this offseason, those trade discussions were expected to continue, perhaps even concluding with Cashner finally being traded. This now appears less likely. Only a few weeks into the 2015-2016 offseason, Cashner seems to have taken a backseat in trade discussions to another San Diego Padres right hander: Tyson Ross.

Despite substantially sinking his trade value with a mediocre 2015 season, Cashner still holds some value on the open market. With that being said, the priority now seems to be to trade Tyson Ross, who probably has more trade value than any Padre. With this in mind, Cashner may very well stick around with the Padres going into his final season of team control.

For the Padres, and for Cashner, all options should be on the table. After another bad season as a starter in 2015, it may be time to try Andrew Cashner in the bullpen. With both Joaquin Benoit and Craig Kimbrel already traded this offseason, why couldn’t Andrew Cashner be the Padres closer?

This may seem like a crazy idea at first glance, but actually makes some sense. This type of move from the starting rotation to the bullpen does have precedence, with several notable pitchers transitioning into a bullpen role after beginning as a starter. As an example of this type of transition, Padres reliever Brandon Maurer was a starting pitcher during the beginning of his career before his trade to San Diego. Andrew Cashner could make a similar type of move to the bullpen for the Padres next season.

Cashner finished the 2015 season with a 4.34 ERA and a 2.3 WAR in 184.2 innings and 31 starts. Plagued by injuries throughout his career, last season’s innings total marked a career high for Cashner. Cashner took a step back in 2015, and could use some sort of change in order to correct what went wrong last season. Being in the bullpen could be the change that Cashner needs.

Cashner perfectly fits the profile of a reliever. Relievers are getting bigger and bigger and are throwing harder and harder. Cashner fits that mold completely. Cashner is one of the hardest throwers in the Padres staff, and could gain a few MPH in velocity with a transition to the bullpen. Pitching less innings overall would also positively impact Cashner’s health and may help to lessen the chances for the types of injuries that have plagued him throughout his career. Cashner would be both nasty in a one or two inning type role, such as the closer, and would also stand to benefit from a decreased workload overall.

Despite the possible benefits of this kind of transition, it is very unlikely that the Padres will make this kind of move. Already without Ian Kennedy for next season, and likely without Tyson Ross if that trade does occur, the Padres are already short on pitchers, with only James Shields, Andrew Cashner, and Colin Rea seemingly guaranteed spots for next season. With that in mind, and barring any big free agent or trade acquisitions, it is likely that Cashner will remain in the starting rotation for what could be his final season in San Diego. Andrew Cashner has had quite an up and down career over the last several years. While a move to the bullpen may be able to revive Cashner’s career, the move seems very unlikely given current circumstances.

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