Andrew Cashner
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Red Sox acquire Andrew Cashner from Orioles

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The Red Sox swung an interesting deal with the Orioles on Saturday, acquiring right-hander Andrew Cashner for outfield prospect Elio Prado and infield prospect Noelberth Romero. Per comments from Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, Cashner is expected to report to the Red Sox on Sunday and will make his debut with the team during their series against the Blue Jays on Tuesday.

The impetus for the trade appears to be the Red Sox’ recent rotation woes, most recently in the form of Nathan Eovaldi‘s right elbow injury and apparent reassignment to the bullpen. Without a reliable fifth starter behind ace Chris Sale, David Price, Eduardo Rodríguez, and Rick Porcello, their rotation has maintained an eighth-best ranking in the majors with a collective 4.65 ERA and 8.3 fWAR in 2019. With Cashner’s help, they might not only improve that ranking, but remain competitive for a wild card berth down the stretch, too.

So far in 2019, the 32-year-old righty appears to be closing in on some career-high numbers. He’ll end his two-year run with the Orioles sporting a 9-3 record in 17 starts, with a 3.83 ERA, 2.7 BB/9, 6.2 SO/9, and 1.8 fWAR across 96 1/3 innings this season. It helps, too, that he’s been fairly healthy, only missing a few starts after developing a blister on his right middle finger last month.

The Orioles, meanwhile, will add the talents of Prado and Romero to their farm system. Both 17-year-old minor leaguers got their start in the Dominican Summer League in 2019: Prado slashed .303/.400/.418 with eight extra-base hits and 26 RBI in 147 plate appearances, while Romero contributed a .264/.336/.364 line with six extra bases and 13 RBI in 123 PA. According to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com, Prado will be assigned to the DSL Orioles 1 and Romero will be sent to the DSL Orioles 2.

Per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Orioles are also expected to shoulder half of the $3.36 million left on Cashner’s salary in 2019, as well as the cumulative $3 million he’s owed in signing bonuses for the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

Nats’ success shouldn’t be about Bryce Harper

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Bryce Harper turns 27 years old today. As an early birthday present, he got to watch his former team reach the World Series for the first time in franchise history. His new team finished exactly at .500 in fourth place, missing the playoffs. These were facts that did not go unnoticed as the Nationals completed an NLCS sweep of the Cardinals at home last night.

Harper spent seven seasons with the Nationals before hitting free agency and ultimately signing with the Phillies on a 13-million, $330 million contract. The Nationals offered Harper a 10-year, $300 million contract at the end of the 2018 regular season, but about $100 million of that was deferred until he was 65 which lowered the present-day value of the offer. The Nats’ offer wasn’t even in the same ballpark, really.

Nevertheless, Nationals fans were upset that their prodigy jilted them to go to the Phillies. He was mercilessly booed whenever the Phillies played in D.C. Nats fans’ Harper jerseys were destroyed, or at least taped over.

Harper, of course, was phenomenal with the Nationals. He won the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 2012, then won the NL MVP Award several years later with an historically outstanding 1.109 OPS while leading the league with 42 homers and 118 runs scored. Overall, as a National, he had a .900 OPS. Pretty good. He was also productive in the postseason, posting an .801 OPS across 19 games, mostly against playoff teams’ best starters and best relievers. Furthermore, if the Nats had Harper this year, he would have been in right field in lieu of Adam Eaton. Harper out OPS’d Eaton by 90 points and posted 2.5 more WAR in a similar amount of playing time. The Nationals would have been even better if they had Harper this year.

The Nationals lost all four Division Series they appeared in during the Harper era. 3-2 to the Cardinals in 2012, 3-1 to the Giants in ’14, 3-2 to the Dodgers in ’16, and 3-2 to the Cubs in ’17. They finally get over the hump the first year they’re without Harper, that’s the difference, right? I saw the phrase “addition by subtraction” repeatedly last night, referring to Harper and the Nats’ subsequent success without him.

Harper, though, didn’t fork over four runs to the Cardinals in the top of the ninth inning in Game 5 in 2012. He didn’t allow the Dodgers to rally for four runs in the seventh inning of Game 5 in ’16 before ultimately losing 4-3. He didn’t use a gassed Max Scherzer in relief in 2017’s Game 5, when he allowed five of the seven Cubs he faced to reach base, leading to three runs which loomed large in a 9-8 loss. If certain rolls of the dice in those years had gone the Nationals’ way, they would have appeared in the NLCS. They might’ve even been able to win a World Series.

The Nationals saw how that looks this year. It was the opposing manager this time, Dave Roberts, who mismanaged his bullpen. Howie Kendrick then hit a tie-breaking grand slam in the 10th inning off of Joe Kelly to win the NLDS for the Nats. The playoffs are random. Sometimes a ball bounces your way, sometimes an umpire’s call goes your way, and sometimes the opposing manager makes several unforced errors to throw Game 5 in your lap.

Reaching the World Series, then thumbing your nose while sticking out your tongue at Harper feels like a guy tagging his ex-girlfriend on his new wedding photos. It’s time to move on.