Andrew Cashner makes first minor league rehab start

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According to Dennis Lin of U-T San Diego, Padres right-hander Andrew Cashner began a minor league rehab assignment last night with High-A Lake Elsinore and tossed two scoreless innings.

Cashner, out since June 23 with right shoulder soreness, allowed one hit and no walks while striking out three batters. He threw 19 out of 24 pitches for strikes. Jeff Sanders of U-T San Diego reports that he’s expected to make two more starts in the minors, with the next coming Wednesday with Double-A El Paso. The hope is that he’ll get stretched out to around 75-8o pitches before making his return.

Cashner, 27, owns a 2.36 ERA and 59/22 K/BB ratio in 76 1/3 innings over 12 starts this season. He’s under team control for two more seasons, so it will be interesting if new general manager A.J. Preller considers dealing him during the offseason. Proving his health and effectiveness down the stretch would increase the asking price.

Report: Padres interested in Maikel Franco

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The Padres may have some interest in acquiring Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco, according to a recent report from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. It seems unlikely that the team would deal their starting third baseman with J.P. Crawford (fractured left hand) sidelined through July; to that end, however, they signed infielder Danny Espinosa as minor league depth on Friday and have reportedly been eying the Rangers’ Adrian Beltre, among other veteran options.

Franco, 25, entered Sunday batting .255/.297/.425 with nine home runs and a .721 OPS in 229 plate appearances this season. While he has yet to live up to the .280+ average, 1.9+ fWAR he posted during his rookie campaign, he’s been a solid 20+ home run producer over the last few years and shown some stability at the hot corner. He’s also under team control for the next three years and could provide some much-needed insurance behind the Padres’ current third base option, 27-year-old Christian Villanueva.

Rosenthal notes that the Phillies could strike a deal for one of San Diego’s relievers, though no one specific has been connected to the team yet — and the club probably wouldn’t be able to finesse a one-for-one deal given the quality of the Padres’ pitchers. The Phillies’ bullpen has looked downright abysmal over the last month, placing 11th-worst in the league with a collective 5.34 ERA and 0.3 fWAR. Their failure to procure a viable reliever beyond Seranthony Dominguez, Victor Arano and Edubray Ramos lends a certain urgency to any potential deal they make over the next few weeks, though the official trade deadline is still over a month away.