You would assume that a veteran player, and especially a veteran pitcher, would welcome a trade out of Baltimore.
Andrew Cashner has other ideas.
Coming off a 115-loss season in 2018, the Orioles enter Memorial Day weekend with a league-worst 15-35 record. Worse yet, their pitching staff has allowed 107 home runs, which puts them on pace to shatter the record for home runs allowed in a single season.
It's a franchise that's going nowhere, fast, yet Cashner, a right-handed pitcher with 10 years of MLB experience, says he has no desire to abandon ship.
While speaking to The Athletic's Dan Connolly this week, Cashner indicated he might consider sitting out the remainder of the season if the Orioles elect to trade him to a contender.
It's an unusual stance, and it presents a problem for the Orioles. That's because Cashner is one of the team’s few appealing trade candidates who could help fetch more reinforcements for their rebuild.
Granted, he's not Manny Machado or Zack Britton in terms of his trade value, but Cashner might be Baltimore's best chip this season. Through 10 starts, he's posted a respectable 4.14 ERA while allowing nine homers in 54 1/3 innings.
That production should make Cashner attractive to contending teams in need of pitching. His attitude, on the other hand, might not. But Cashner does have his reasons for loving Baltimore, and surprisingly they do not include crab cakes.
Finding comfort amid Baltimore's struggles
Despite the allure of leaving baseball's worst team for a shot at the postseason, Cashner says he's found comfort in Baltimore.
Cashner is in no hurry to leave Baltimore. He likes it here. The staff. His teammates. He’s done this big-league gig for 10 years, and he’s learned that happiness isn’t always easy to find. So, when you get it, you don’t want to lose it.
“I wish I had a no-trade clause,” Cashner said. “But it’s all part of where you’re at [in your career]. And, I think, once something comes [on the trade front], I’ll have to sit down with my family and decide what’s best for me.”
As noted, Cashner cannot veto a trade. There's no no-trade clause written into his contract, nor does he have 10-5 veto rights, which are granted to veterans with 10 total years of service time, the last five of which were spent with their current team.
He's at the Orioles’ mercy in that regard, which might be why he's aiming to gain leverage two months ahead of the trade deadline.
Rough trade experience
In addition to being comfortable in Baltimore, Cashner says he hates the process of being on the trade block.
Cashner cited his 2016 trade from San Diego to Miami as a particularly rough experience.
“I literally found out at like 6 a.m. on ESPN and I didn’t get a call until like 11 o’clock in the morning. And then my flight was like two hours later,” he said. “I think when you find out on TV, versus finding out from the organization that you are trying to give everything you’ve got, I think it’s tough. But it’s kind of the world we live in. Everybody’s living to announce something first.”
The not knowing seems to bother Cashner the most. But he’s actually had it easy compared to most MLB players.
Cashner, 32, had only been traded one other time. That came in 2012 when the Cubs sent him to San Diego for a pretty decent first baseman named Anthony Rizzo.
Would Cashner actually sit out?
If he does, it could be costly.
Cashner is making $8 million this season and has a $10 million option for 2020. However, for that option to vest, he’ll need to throw 187 innings in 2019.
If he misses two months, he’ll fall well short of that number. Perhaps in his mind he thinks he can make up for it on the market next season. Then again, not accepting a trade could change the league’s perception of him.
“I haven’t thought about it too much,” Cashner said of potentially sitting out. “At the end of the day, I kind of control what I want to do. Whether I want to go, whether I want to stay. I’d just have to sit down with my family and find out what’s best for us.”
In theory, Cashner and the Orioles have about 10 weeks to get on the same page.
In reality, Cashner’s hand could be forced tomorrow.
He might want to keep refreshing his Twitter feed just in case.
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