Throughout the next several weeks, we'll be looking at some prospective free agents the Orioles may be interested in. Most of them are starting pitchers.
Vital stats: Cashner is a 31-year-old right-hander with a 42-64 lifetime record and 3.80 ERA. In eight major league seasons, Cashner has pitched for the Chicago Cubs, San Diego Padres, Miami Marlins and Texas Rangers. This past season with the Rangers, he was 11-11 with a 3.40 ERA.
Orioles connection: The Orioles have been interested in Cashner before, and he's done well against them. In three starts, he's 1-1 with a 2.14 ERA. At Oriole Park, he has a 2.57 ERA in two starts.
Where would he fit? The Orioles need to replace Jeremy Hellickson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Wade Miley and possibly Chris Tillman, and based on his 2017 stats, Cashner is a step up from them.
Why wouldn't he fit? For most of his career, Cashner sported a full beard, and the Orioles have an unofficial rule against them. While he unhappily shaved the beard to comply with the Marlins' team policy against all facial hair in 2016, he said it was a consideration in choosing a team. In September 2016, Cashner said the beard rule "is a big deal to me in free agency."
Scouting report: "This guy can pitch," one major league scout said. "His stuff is good." Another said, "Big [velocity], not much strikeouts."
The Orioles would like a starter to slot behind right-handers Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman, and based on his stats, putting Cashner in the third spot in the Orioles' rotation may be a stretch, but as one scout said: "Is he better than Miley or Jimenez? Yes."
There are some good reasons to like Cashner, who had a 3.40 ERA in 2017. He allowed fewer than a hit per inning and gave up just 15 home runs in 166.2 innings, fewer than one per nine innings.
However, his walks were way up in 2017 and his strikeouts down. His walk/strikeout ratio was just 1.34. Even Miley, whose 93 walks led the major leagues, had a better walk/strikeout ratio.
Cashner would fit, but he'd be much better as a fourth or fifth starter than as a third.
MLBTradeRumors.com predicts Cashner will sign a two-year, $20 million contract with the Oakland Athletics. If that's the amount it would take to sign Cashner, it's certainly within the Orioles' budget.
In Miami, Cashner played for Don Mattingly, a close friend of Orioles manager Buck Showalter. Mattingly was the enforcer of the Marlins' no-facial-hair policy. While the Orioles have an open clubhouse, the full beard restriction is still in place. If that's still a concern to Cashner, one scout asked: "Is he a Buck Showalter kind of guy?"
Showalter doesn't try to stifle players' personalities. He embraces differences in players and often said he doesn't want players to be robots. Perhaps Cashner would embrace the challenge of pitching in the American League East for the first time and will eagerly accept wearing a goatee instead of the full beard he had with the Rangers.
Current Orioles are hitting .222 against Cashner, and the only batter with a long history against him is designated hitter Mark Trumbo, who is 4-for-20 (.200).