BALTIMORE — Locked in a desperate push to get back into the playoffs, the Boston Red Sox had no intention of waiting until the end of the month to upgrade their starting rotation.
“He’s been throwing the ball well. He’s a veteran,” Boston manager Alex Cora said after the Red Sox lost 11-2 to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday night. “He’s been pitching well against some tough competition and we won’t change too much.”
The deal was announced after Baltimore beat Tampa Bay 2-1 in the first game of a day-night doubleheader.
Cashner is 9-3 with a 3.83 ERA in 17 starts for the team with the worst record in the majors. He has gone at least six innings in his last five starts and has a 1.41 ERA since the beginning of June.
“He’ll be here (Sunday) and start on Tuesday,” Red Sox general manager Dave Dombrowski said.
Better sooner than later.
“We just felt that this makes sense for us, to get him right into the rotation,” Dombrowski said. “He’s excited to be here, excited to pitch, excited to join the club and be part of the pennant race.”
The 32-year-old Cashner goes from the rebuilding Orioles to the defending World Series champion Red Sox, who had a 50-41 record before hosting the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday night. Boston began the day far back of AL East-leading New York but in the thick of the wild-card race after opening the season with 12 losses in 18 games.
“It’s definitely exciting. That’ll more kick in once you get there,” Cashner said. “You make a lot of relationships in this game. It’s just saying goodbye to a lot of people is maybe the toughest thing.”
But he can’t wait to say hello to his new teammates, pitch for the home team at Fenway Park and settle into a city soaked with tradition. His first start will be at home against Toronto.
“They’ve been a tough team to face, I know that. It’ll be really cool,” Cashner said. “It’s such a rich history with baseball there. David Ortiz has been one of my favourite players growing up. They’re still the champions from last year. It’ll be fun to help them get to where they want to go.”
The Orioles received infielder Noelberth Romero and outfielder Elio Prado. Neither player is well known, but that’s what happens when a team launches a rebuild from the ground up.
“We’ve made no secret of the fact that we’re eyeing our broad long-term strategy, which is getting the best young talent that we can from every angle,” general manager Mike Elias said. “There’s a trade deadline coming up. Had talks with several teams but Boston was the most serious and most aggressive. We ended up getting two very young players that we like.”
Boston hopes the addition of Cashner will prove beneficial to the entire staff.
“It helps our bullpen also. It adds length. We won’t need our ‘pen as much,” Dombrowski said.
Cashner has a lifetime record of 55-82 with a 4.00 ERA. He is in the final season of a two-year, $16 million contract.
“It’s tough because you’re only offering a couple months of control, and that limits the possible return and the number of teams that are interested,” Elias said. “With Andrew not coming back, it made sense for us to strike once we got something that made sense.”
His style and long beard should be a great fit in gritty Boston.
“I think I’ve pitched great my whole career, except for last year (when he went 4-15 with Baltimore),” Cashner said. “Teams know what I’m about as far as grinding stuff out. I don’t have the best stuff in the league or the worst stuff. But I’m definitely going to grind stuff out.”
Baltimore agreed to send Boston $1,777,839 to cover all but $1,577,000 of the $3,354,839 Cashner is due from his $8 million salary this year. Baltimore also agreed to make contingent payments on some of Cashner’s performance bonuses if he should achieve them.
The Red Sox are also expecting to get a boost from the return of starter Nathan Eovaldi, who has been out since the end of April, when he had an operation to remove a loose body in his right elbow. The World Series hero, who is expected to throw to a live batter on Monday, will go to the bullpen.