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What is Andrew Cashner’s Value?

A pitcher in Petco Park should always be on your fantasy radar. With the trade of Anthony Rizzo, Andrew Cashner became the most recent pitcher to be acquired by the Padres. While Cashner will pitch out of the bullpen next season, he still could have some fantasy value. Things could get more interesting in 2013, when Cashner could move into the rotation. Knowing that Cashner might be far more valuable a season down the road, is it worth it to take a chance on him in a keeper or dynasty league next season?

Cashner has certainly been exciting when healthy. His extreme heater can reach 100 mph, but he has a tough time commanding the pitch. While he’s capable of punching out hitters at an above average rate in the majors, Cashner will have to keep his walk rate in check in order to be effective. Cashner has a slightly larger margin for error while pitching in Petco.

Pitching out of the bullpen should have it’s advantages to Cashner next season. Cashner should be able to focus on throwing his fastball and slider, his two best pitches. While he’ll need to further develop his third pitch — a change-up — in order to transition to the rotation in 2013, he should be able to get by with two pitches this season.

With the acquisition of Huston Street earlier this off-season, Cashner is not likely to get many save opportunities. With Luke Gregerson continuing to dominate in the late innings, and Ernesto Frieri establishing himself as a useful reliever last season, Cashner might have a tough time racking up a ton of holds. At the same time, Street is in the last year of his deal, and could be a mid-season trade candidate. If that’s the case, Cashner does have the power-velocity that many managers look for in a closer. While the job would most likely go to Gregerson if Street is traded, it’s possible Cashner gets a shot at the role. If not, Cashner would at least pick up more holds following a Street trade.

With that in mind, it’s certainly possible the Padres are grooming Cashner to be their closer of the future. Street is unlikely to be with the team past 2012, and Cashner might be the ideal candidate to take on the role in the future.

Cashner would have more value in leagues if he transitions to the rotation in 2013. The Padres rotation may be young, but many members are unproven, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Cashner knocked one of the Padres starters out of the rotation next season. He comes with more risk in the rotation — as he’ll have to develop a third pitch and would be more susceptible to injuries — but he would be far more valuable in fantasy leagues.

Does that make Cashner a good late-round pick in keeper or dynasty leagues this season?

Cashner is definitely a risky choice this season. There is no guarantee that Cashner will pick up saves, and it’s pretty unclear whether he’ll be the first in line to receive save opportunities once Street is gone. There is also no guarantee the Padres will shift Cashner to the rotation in 2013. While they would be able to get more value out of Cashner as a starter, the Padres are likely aware of the risks involved with Cashner throwing more innings.

If Cashner does see an increase in his role, it’s going to be difficult to get him at such a low price. If you believe Cashner will be a starter in 2013, or is the Padres closer of the future, he might be worth a shot in the late rounds of your draft. If you are unsure, Cashner probably shouldn’t be on your radar unless your league counts holds.