Cashner and Bailey on the Move by Paul Sporer July 16, 2019 Trade season kicked off with a couple of smaller moves over the weekend as Boston and Oakland bought in on a pair of once-solid arms trying to recapture their past glory. While the deadline isn’t loaded with top-flight players, we could still see a blockbuster trade period by volume. Of course, that second wildcard keeps a lot of teams thinking they are alive when they really aren’t legitimate contenders… lookin’ at you, San Francisco. Andrew Cashner to the Red Sox Boston went shopping in-division, acquiring the 32-year old righty from the Baltimore Orioles along with some cash for Elio Prado and Noelberth Romero. Cashner has a 3.83 ERA and 1.19 WHIP over 96.3 innings, including a 1.41 ERA over his last five starts (32 IP). This isn’t like 2017 Cashner, who somehow posted a 3.40 ERA with a skills profile that should’ve yielded something much closer to 5.00 (or higher). His impossibly low 3% K-BB rate that year sat back and let a .266 BABIP and 74% LOB rate do all the heavy lifting. He has a still-low-but-far-more-palatable 9% K-BB rate this season while pushing his BABIP even lower to .256 and somehow being one of the only guys to consistently keep the ball in the yard with a 1.0 HR/9. Cashner has ditched his sinker in favor of a four-seamer, added 1 mph to said four-seamer, and discovered a really strong changeup (only Luis Castillo’s has been better by pitch value). Cashner might not see major gains in Boston if only because he was a bit of anomaly in Baltimore. While Boston’s defense is unquestionably better, can it really help him lower his BABIP? He’s at .256, 7th-best in baseball. Maybe his expected regression won’t be so severe. You’d also assume a boost in run support with this move, but Cashner actually has nine wins thanks to 6.4 runs per game, 5th-best in the league. So instead of major additions, Cashner’s move to Boston is more likely to curb a major falloff in production. Cashner’s upcoming schedule is a mixed bag with a two-start week against Toronto and Baltimore this week followed by potential starts against New York (AL), Tampa Bay, Kansas City, Los Angeles (AL), and Baltimore over the next month. I’m open to streaming him in 12-team mixers and beyond, particularly if I’m chasing ratios as the strikeouts just won’t be there. Homer Bailey to the Athletics The A’s scooped the 33-year old right-hander for minor leaguer Kevin Merrell to reinforce their painfully thin rotation. They had developed a burgeoning ace in Frankie Montas before he was suspended half the year for PED use leaving their 2018 trade acquisition Mike Fiers at the helm. Would-be reinforcements like Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk have battled injuries leaving Chris Bassitt and Brett Anderson in prominent roles. To their credit, they’ve both performed well, but reinforcements were needed. Enter Bailey. He opened the season with some interesting work, netting 27 Ks in 23 innings with a 4.30 ERA (though one start really pushed that up) and actually garnering some attention on the fantasy landscape only to unleash an eight-start run with a 7.31 ERA. Once again an afterthought, Bailey has reemerged with another extended run of solid work: 2.83 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, and 29 Ks in 35 innings. All told, Bailey has a 4.80 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, and 11% K-BB rate – a perfectly cromulent 4th/5th starter type. Bailey gains the support of a better offense (OAK 9th in wRC+ at 104; KC 23rd at 86) and perhaps the best bullpen the league. Their 4.6 reliever WAR is an MLB-best while the Royals were 18th at 1.2. The move from the AL Central to AL West doesn’t help and the schedule has some landmines in the future: Seattle, Houston, Texas, St. Louis, Chicago (AL), Houston, and New York (AL). Bailey is the opposite of Cashner as you can stream him for strikeouts, but I wouldn’t hold out hope for much else. Home runs are the biggest concern here and leave him prone to that soul-crushing 5+ ER outing so be careful here.