Kevin Gausman is one of the veteran leaders in the Baltimore Orioles‘ clubhouse. In the rotation, he’s the elder statesman. And that’s a little weird for the 27-year old, who agreed to terms on a one-year deal on Tuesday.
“I used to be the one asking everyone where I was going. Now, they are asking me,” Gausman said.
“It’s definitely a little weird and kind of different. If we don’t sign anybody to the rotation, I’ll be the longest-tenured pitcher on our team. So that’s kind of weird to think about, because I really haven’t been around very long. But I’m excited about that. It’s a new step, something I’ve always done on every team I’ve been on. But when you’re 22, and get to the big leagues, you are not going to be that guy. Not yet. I’m looking forward to [taking more of a leader role].”
Gausman, who was the last remaining unsigned arbitration-eligible player, had a flight to Phoenix ready for Wednesday’s hearing. But the two sides were able to come to an agreement, and avoid an often contentious scenario, giving the Orioles all seven of their arbitration-eligibles officially under contract for the season.
With his contract now squared away, Gausman will be able to focus on a camp that has 35 pitchers and three open rotation spots. Outside of himself and Dylan Bundy, the O’s starting rotation is up in the air with executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette actively trying to add before March 1.
Despite the long wait to join a club — in what has been a slow free-agent market — Cashner said it wasn’t a difficult time. Orioles vice president of baseball operations Brady Anderson had remained in steady contact with Cashner since November, and the righty cited that as “a great building block” in ultimately getting a deal done.
Cashner, who went 11-11 with 3.40 ERA last year, joins a rotation that includes right-handers Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman with a lot of question marks behind them. To make room on the roster, the Orioles placed closer Zach Britton (right Achilles surgery) on the 60-day disabled list.
The Cashner deal marks the Orioles’ first major acquisition since the end of last season. The contract also fits the O’s parameters of not going above three years for a free-agent starter and gives them some financial flexibility for potentially more acquisitions.
“I don’t know a lot,” Cashner said of his new club. “I do know that they need some starting pitching, and here it is. [I’ll] show up every day, and whomever I can help out, I’ll help out. My job is to come here and pitch and win.”
The 31-year-old Cashner made 28 starts for the Rangers in 2017, throwing 166 2/3 innings. He struck out 86 batters and walked 64, posting an impressive ground-ball percentage of 48.6, which ranked No. 6 in the AL and should play favorably in a hitter-friendly ballpark such as Camden Yards, where many fly-ball pitchers have struggled.
The 31-year-old Cashner made 28 starts for the Rangers in 2017, throwing 166 2/3 innings. He struck out 86 batters and walked 64, posting an impressive ground-ball percentage of 48.6, which ranked sixth in the AL and should play favorably in a hitter-friendly ballpark like Camden Yards, where many fly-ball pitchers have struggled.
This year, he’ll be tasked with helping turn around an Orioles rotation that ranked among the worst in baseball in 2017.
“[He’s a] guy that’s got a plan. Knows what he’s doing down in the bullpen. Knows what his strengths are,” Showalter said. “[He] has evolved as a pitcher. Knows who he is. Very confident in his approach and ability to get people out, like you would expect a veteran pitcher to be. Coming off a good year in the American League, so he knows what he’s up against. Very business-like [and has] a quiet confidence in knowing what works and what doesn’t.”
Cashner came up with O’s reliever Brad Brach with the Padres, who initially used Cashner as a setup man, “back when I used to throw a lot harder than I do now,” he said, laughing.
“The other veterans in this locker room, they’ve seen me from the other side. So they know what I’m capable of. They know what I need to work on. It’s all about helping each other have a common goal to win.”