The 2017-2018 offseason is here for the Minnesota Twins. Who could be Twins be targeting in the free agent market?
Now that the Minnesota Twins have entered the offseason, they are looking to improve the roster through trades and through free agent signings. In this series, we’re going to examine individual players that the Minnesota Twins could have interest in this offseason through free agency.
We will not have any specific order to which player we highlight in this series, but we will look at each player’s past history, why he could be a good fit for the Minnesota Twins, and, last, the sort of contract likely to be required to sign the player.
We will continue the series with another look at a starting pitcher available on the market…
Andrew Cashner, RHP
Cashner was a rare pitcher who was drafted 4 times. Cashner was drafted by the Atlanta Braves out of high school in the 20th round in 2005. After being drafted in the 18th round by the Rockies in 2006 and the Cubs in the 29th round of the 2007 draft, Cashner was the 19th overall selection in 2006 of the Chicago Cubs.
He worked his way up the Cubs system, earning top-100 prospect status in the offseason before the 2010 season, when Baseball America ranked him #95 overall among all prospects in baseball. He made his major league debut with the Cubs in 2010. Before the 2012 season, he was traded to the San Diego Padres in a deal that brought Anthony Rizzo to Chicago.
Cashner spent half of 2012 with the Padres before he took over a starting job in 2013 at the big league level. Cashner really has battled injuries ever since, showing flashes of excellence dashed around significant injury time missed.
After some major dings left his 2016 season in shambles, the Rangers took a one-year gamble in 2017 on Cashner and were rewarded with arguably Cashner’s best season, as he made 28 starts, throwing 166 2/3 innings, posting a 3.40 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, and 64/86 BB/K ratio.
How he would fit
Cashner’s no longer got a strikeout slider, which has really turned him into a contact-oriented pitcher rather than the strikeout machine that he once was. Cashner has also lost velocity from when he came into the league, going from an average fastball velocity of 96.2 MPH in 2015 to 94.2 MPH this past season.
What he does offer is an arm that has been through the ringer and now has multiple ways to get a batter to make weak contact. With the Twins excellent defense, Cashner can get hitters to hit lazy fly balls or routine grounders quite frequently. He added a cutter and reduced his slider usage in 2017, and this lowered his hard hit rate to the lowest rate he’s posted as a starter.
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In spite of showing health in 2017, Cashner is still too much of an injury risk to take a heavy risk into. He’s at a level of starting pitchers that he might be wise to wait out the market and let himself be one of the last arms on the market, where he could capitalize financially.
The Twins would be wise not to invest in multiple guaranteed seasons on Cashner. Certainly, a deal could be structured with vesting options for 2019 and even 2020 based on innings pitched to ensure Cashner was able to remain healthy as he eats quality innings when he is healthy.
Cashner made $10 million last season, and he’s probably looking for that level of money this season for one season. He may be willing to take less over multiple seasons, perhaps in the 2 years, $16 million range, but probably not any less.
Should the Minnesota Twins do it?
In a word, no. For one season, Cashner isn’t worth $10 million, and he’s simply not a guy that would make sense for multiple seasons. If they could get him on a deal where he’s making a $5-7 million contract this season with incentives plus one or two vesting options, then that’d be a solid deal. Otherwise, the team should stay away.