The Baltimore Orioles are reportedly interested in free agent starting pitchers Jason Vargas and Andrew Cashner.
Vargas, 34, started 32 games for the Kansas City Royals last year, his first time starting more than 30 games since the 2014 season. He pitched 179.2 innings with a 4.16 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, and a 6.71 K/9.
Vargas started off last season having one of the best first halves in all of baseball, pitching to a 2.62 ERA in the first half of the year. However, that was influenced by quite a bit of luck, as his .276 BABIP and 4.78 xFIP for the first half indicate.
He came crashing down back to earth in the second-half of the season with a 6.38 ERA and a walk rate that nearly doubled from 5.8% in the first half to 10.1% in the second.
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Vargas has been around the league for some time, starting his career with the New York Mets before moving to the Seattle Mariners, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and finally the Royals.
One of the bonuses to Vargas, and likely why the Baltimore Orioles are interested in him, is that he’s a left-handed pitcher, something their starting rotation sorely needs. Unfortunately, Vargas is little more than an innings eater, as he doesn’t have much in the way of strikeout potential, nor is he likely to pitch to an ERA far below 4.00.
Still, given Vargas’ age, he will likely be fairly cheap, which could mean a one- or two-year deal in store for the Baltimore Orioles, should they choose to sign him. MLBTradeRumors predicted that Vargas would sign with the Orioles for one year and $10 million.
As for Cashner, the former 19th-overall pick in the 2008 MLB Draft is coming off one of his better seasons in his career. With the Texas Rangers last season, Cashner pitched 166.2 innings with a 3.40 ERA, a 1.32 WHIP, and a 4.64 K/9.
The peripheral numbers indicate that there was a fair bit of luck involved with Cashner’s year last year, though, as he ended the season with a .266 BABIP and a 5.30 xFIP.
Cashner, 31, has suffered from injuries in the past, as well as a fastball that has lost velocity, dipping from around 97 MPH on average during his days with the San Diego Padres to just 93 MPH on average last year.
Cashner, unlike Vargas, is a right-handed pitcher and has had good strikeout potential (aside from his strange year last year). He’s been inconsistent, however, and along with the injuries, he makes for a risky addition to a desperate Baltimore Orioles starting rotation.
Likely, Cashner would pitch to around a 4.50-5.00 ERA next year if he joined the Baltimore Orioles with an average K/9. If he stays healthy, he’s an ok guy in your rotation, but in all honesty, he’s not a whole lot better than what the Orioles already have.
MLBTradeRumors predicted that Cashner would sign a two-year, $20 million deal this offseason with the Oakland Athletics.
As the Baltimore Orioles look to replace Chris Tillman, Wade Miley, and Ubaldo Jimenez in their starting rotations, look for them to start inquiring to other free agent pitchers, though I would say that a Vargas signing would be pretty likely for them, given their need for a left-handed starting pitcher.