Red Sox made a smart decision trading for Andrew Cashner

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 17: Andrew Cashner #54 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches during the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Ring Central Coliseum on June 17, 2019 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 17: Andrew Cashner #54 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches during the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Ring Central Coliseum on June 17, 2019 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images) /
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The Boston Red Sox made a wise decision in acquiring under-the-radar target Andrew Cashner to fill the spot at the back of their rotation.

The Boston Red Sox have found a solution for the void at the back of their rotation by acquiring Andrew Cashner from the Baltimore Orioles. While he’s not one of the flashy names that the club was rumored to have interest in, Cashner gives the Red Sox exactly what they were looking for.

Cashner is 9-3 with a 3.83 ERA in 17 starts this season. His 6.17 K/9 is one of the lowest strikeout rates in the league but he’s shown progress with an 8.7 swinging-strike rate that is his highest since he transitioned into a full-time starter.

Cashner also makes up for his lack up strikeouts with one of the league’s highest ground ball rates at 49.2%, an approach that will fare well at Fenway Park by keeping batted balls away from the inviting wall in shallow left field.

The once-promising prospect hasn’t lived up to his pedigree throughout an inconsistent career. A few solid seasons have been mixed with some brutal ones and Cashner was arguably one of the worst starters in league last season when he went 4-15 with a 5.29 ERA.

He’s bounced back in a big way this season and there’s reason for optimism that these results will continue. Cashner ditched the sinker that he relied heavily on since becoming a starter and works with a mix of four-seam fastballs, changeups and sliders. The change in approach seems to be working for him.

Cashner has been in excellent form lately. He’s lasted at least six innings while allowing two runs or fewer in each of his last five starts, producing a 1.41 ERA over that stretch. He owns a 2.75 ERA over his last nine starts against teams that currently have a winning record.

Even with a bit of regression, Cashner provides a significant upgrade over the flotsam that Boston has cycled through the No. 5 spot in their rotation. The handful of spot starters the Red Sox have used since Nathan Eovaldi went on the injured list have combined to go 2-7 with a 6.79 ERA.

Those five pitchers have made it through five innings only three times in 16 starts. Cashner has pitched at least six innings in 10 of his 17 starts. His ability to eat up more innings will put less pressure on the bullpen, improving Boston’s core of relievers by virtue of helping to prevent them from being overworked.

Could Boston have acquired an even bigger upgrade if they had waited until closer to the deadline to make a move? Possibly, but it would have cost them more. Part of the appeal of Cashner is the reasonable price tag.

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The two prospects that the Red Sox are sending to Baltimore, infielder Noelberth Romero and outfielder Elio Prado, weren’t among the organization’s top prospects and they aren’t close to sniffing the big leagues. Boston’s brass is hesitant to deal their best trade chips for short-term fixes as they attempt to rebuild a farm system that is ranked among the worst in baseball.

The financial aspect is a vital factor for a team working on a tight budget. Cashner is owed approximately $3.36 million for the rest of this season, about half of which is being covered by the Orioles, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Baltimore is also responsible for paying any bonus money that Cashner earns based on innings and starts. The salary that Boston owes him should fit neatly under the threshold for the third tier of luxury tax penalties.

The Red Sox don’t need another front line starter and don’t have the resources to acquire one anyway. They were seeking a No. 5 starter to solidify their rotation so they could stop cycling through a collection of duds every fifth day, forcing them to burn out their thin bullpen.

Cashner gives them that and he didn’t cost them a prospect that figured prominently into their future or push them into the deepest tax territory. He can help the Red Sox in the present without sacrificing a piece of their future. Their farm system isn’t notably weaker in the wake of this deal and their top draft pick next year won’t be knocked out of the first round again.

Next. Christian Vazquez is having a career year. dark

It’s not the blockbuster deal that many were clamoring for but the Cashner trade is a wise decision that balances the current needs with an eye on the future of the franchise.

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