Andrew Cashner to start Opening Day for Padres

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Padres manager Bud Black announced earlier this evening that right-hander Andrew Cashner will start the team’s season opener against the Dodgers on March 30. It will be the first Opening Day assignment of his career.

Once a top pitching prospect with the Cubs, Cashner dealt with a bunch of injuries early on his career, but he finally began to realize his potential last season. After making a few early appearances out of the bullpen, he joined San Diego’s rotation in late April and posted a 3.04 ERA and 119/41 K/BB ratio in 165 2/3 innings over 26 starts. While the strikeout rate was lower than expected given his velocity, he missed more bats as the season moved along and posted a ground ball rate above 50 percent. He’s carrying some serious momentum into 2014.

Cashner is part of an interesting rotation in San Diego which also projects to include Ian Kennedy, Josh Johnson, Tyson Ross and Eric Stults. This team could surprise if things break right.

Royals, Alex Gordon close to contract agreement

Alex Gordon
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MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports that the Royals and outfielder Alex Gordon are “getting close” to an agreement on a one-year contract. Terms of the deal aren’t yet known, but the Royals could make it official within the next few days.

Gordon, who turns 36 years old next month, hit .266/.345/.396 with 13 home runs and 76 RBI over 633 plate appearances with the Royals this past season. His offense has waned, owning an adjusted OPS of 84 since 2016 (100 is average), but he still plays decent defense.

Gordon has spent all 13 years of his major league career with the Royals. With the club in a rebuilding phase, he will serve as the clubhouse leader and be a mentor to younger players on the roster.