Padres News: 2016 is Pivotal Year for Andrew Cashner

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Mandatory Credit: UT San Diego
Mandatory Credit: UT San Diego

When the San Diego Padres acquired Andrew Cashner from the Chicago Cubs for Anthony Rizzo in January of 2012 he was expected to be something special. Not that the fireball throwing right hander hasn’t been a good pitcher, it’s just that most Padres fans expected way more from him.

It doesn’t help that Anthony Rizzo has bloomed into a legitimate star in Chicago and looks to be a perennial all-star for years on end. The trade was bad. In hindsight it may go down to one of the worse deals in team history. However Andrew Cashner can still be a valuable player. He may just be a late bloomer that finally puts it all together. At least the Padres can only hope.

His stuff has never been the problem. He has a high 90’s fastball which he can sink when needed. He also has a nasty variety of off-speed pitches but continually gets hit hard or has problems locating his stuff. Health at one time was an issue for this big Texan, but he appears to have gotten over his early injury issues.

At 29 years of age Cashner is set to man the number three spot in the Padres rotation to start the season. The 2016 year is his final year under contract as he is set for free agency after the season. His salary of $7.150 million is at a decent price, but he surely will make more than that on the open market prior to the 2017 season. That is, if he can remain healthy and productive in 2016.

If he can find his groove and become more consistent, Cashner could very well take a giant step in 2016. He has a solid career ERA of 3.59 in his 594 innings pitched. Cashner had a bad year last year in which he went 6-16 with a 4.34 ERA. The positive about last season was the fact Cashner made a career high 31 starts and also pitched a career high 184.2 innings. He showed some durability and even did so while dealing with personal problem at home. All in all, despite the record and number, it was a positive year for Andrew Cashner. His value is still down right now though. Teams look at him and see a player who is 29 with a 26-42 career record. That does not exactly thrill teams and their front office. Despite his terrible overall record and maddening inconsistency, he can still be a quality major league pitcher.

It’s difficult to put your finger on why Cashner has not been a dominate force. His motion is relatively smooth and repeatable. He keeps himself in great shape and there have no reports of a bad attitude or anything like that. For what ever reason he just has not put the whole package together. In my estimation I’d like to see more fire from him on the mound. Usually you tell pitchers to calm down, but Cashner just seems too relaxed from time to time. I don’t know. Perhaps I am just reaching. The point is he is capable of so much more. This being his last year under contract it is important for Cashner and his representatives that he produce.

Credit: AP Photo
Credit: AP Photo

It’s not hard to imagine that at one point in the next 4-5 months the Padres will seriously consider dealing the pitcher. If not sooner for that matter. Both Texas teams make a great fit for the right handed pitcher. In fact Cashner packaged with Derek Norris seems like a decent idea. That all really depends on what the Padres could get in return. The catching depth on the Padres has grown with the emergence of Austin Hedges and the trade for Christian Bethancourt. Both young defenders are quality catchers and their growth has made dealing Norris a decent idea.

Andrew Cashner has shown no inclination to re-sign with the Padres, and his value is not worthy of a compensation pick. With that being said, he should be dealt for prospects at some point. Cashner will make just over seven million dollars this season, and the compensation pick was set at just under $16 million dollars for the 2016 season. It would take a monster year from him to put himself in the conversation for a compensation pick. Not completely out of the realm of possibility, but not a likely scenario at all.

If Padres fans ever wanted to see a motivated Andrew Cashner, this is the year. Not to say he wasn’t motivated before, but every start is important for his future. Given his age, this will likely be his one chance at a huge money multi-year deal. Padres fans should be excited. This top three in the pitching staff is capable of being really special. Perhaps it takes a year for them to come together. Improved defense behind them can only improve their numbers.

Andrew Cashner needs a great start to the season. He had a very nice performance on Tuesday after getting roughed up early by the Rangers. He settled down and went six strong innings featuring a powerful biting two-seem fastball. He looks good for the start of the season and that bodes well for both Cashner and the Padres.

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