What’s happening – The Orioles filled a significant hole in their starting rotation by signing right-hander Andrew Cashner to a two-year $16 million contract with a 2020 vesting option.
The way the contract is structured with deferments, a signing bonus and incentives, the Orioles’ payroll only increases $5 million in 2018 with the move. Cashner’s contract could be worth $41 million total, if all incentives are met and a $10 million option for 2020 is triggered.
The 31-year-old has a 42-64 record with a 3.80 ERA in eight seasons with the Cubs, Padres, Marlins and Rangers.
Cashner is the third bona fide starter in the Orioles rotation, joining Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy.
“I do know that they need some starting pitching, and here it is, show up every day and whoever I can help out, help out,” Cashner said. “And my job is to come here and pitch and win.”
Cashner was at the Orioles’ spring training facility in Sarasota on Thursday, but he’ll head back to his home in Texas for a few days before returning Sunday when the team’s full squad is scheduled to report.
“He’s a veteran starter. That’s a good deal for both us and him,” manager Buck Showalter said. “Obviously, it’s a need that we had. We think we have some people here that can do a job, and also we want to have depth as a starting pitcher.”
Cashner said he and Orioles Vice President of Baseball Operations Brady Anderson began talking in November. It’s been a long process for many free agents.
“I don’t think it’s been difficult. It’s been interesting. It’s been different,” Cashner said. “I met with Brady back in November and we’ve had dialogue ever since. He’s reached out to me, and I reached out to him, and I think the communication’s been great throughout the whole process.”
Showalter is pleased to have added an experienced arm to his starting staff.
“He’s a guy that’s pitched well in the American League,” Showalter said. “That’s something that I think played in his favor. And doing a lot of the homework on the other part of it, I think we just think it’s a good, all-around fit for us.”
To make room on the 40-man roster for Cashner, the Orioles placed closer Zach Britton on the 60-day disabled list. Britton is recovering from surgery to repair a torn right Achilles tendon.
The Orioles now have 36 pitchers in camp, including Britton.
Something to think about – A day before the news about Cashner came out, Showalter listed eight possible starters for spring training games. It’s possible he’ll pare down that list.
Besides Bundy and Gausman, Showalter listed right-handers Miguel Castro, Hunter Harvey, Mike Wright and Gabriel Ynoa as well as Rule 5 draft choices, Nestor Cortes, a left-hander, and right-hander Jose Mesa.
The Orioles will still want to see Harvey, and without an established left-handed starter for the time being, Cortes will probably remain in the mix.
However, Wright and Ynoa, who are both out of options, may not get as many starting opportunities this spring.
A name to consider – Eddie Gamboa. The 33-year-old knuckleballer has returned for a second iteration with the Orioles.
Gamboa signed a minor league contract with the Orioles after spending the first eight seasons of his professional career in the organization, but he never pitched for the big league team. He pitched in seven games for Tampa Bay in 2016 with an 0-2 record and 1.35 ERA.
Showalter has implored him to throw more knuckleballs and fewer fastballs. Hall of Fame pitcher Phil Niekro, whom the Orioles had work with Gamboa, told him he has to accept some of the risks of throwing the knuckler.
“It’s a lot of stress that comes with it, a lot of wild pitches, a lot of passed balls, a lot of walks,” Gamboa said. “You can walk the bases loaded, and you can get out of it, all in one inning.”
What they are saying – “It’s a lineup you can’t really make a lot of mistakes against. It’s a lot of power in there, and I got to pitch [for] San Diego one year in Baltimore. Really cool stadium, really neat, a lot of history. It’s one of my favorite places to pitch, so I’m looking forward to making that my home [stadium] every night.” — Andrew Cashner on joining the Orioles.