There a lot of ways in which starting pitchers Andrew Cashner and Ian Kennedy are different. The most obvious being that Cashner is 6'5 and Kennedy is but 6' tall. Cashner always sports a beard and it's sorta brownish-blonde and Kennedy sometimes sports one that's got a reddish hue. Cashner's from Texas and Kennedy is from California. However, in terms of contract status, the Padres have found themselves in the same situation for Cashner in 2016 as they did with Ian Kennedy in 2015.
Ian Kennedy went into 2015 with his two most recent seasons being a combination of one bad one and one good one. Andrew Cashner will go into 2016 with the same. Kennedy also went into the 2015 season with a pretty sizable salary of $9.85 million. Cashner is going into the 2016 season with a somewhat sizable salary of $7.15 million. Both of these players entered their respective season looking at it as their last one before entering free agency.
The Padres chose with Kennedy to keep him for the 2015 season despite his impending free agent status. This was a somewhat defensible position. The club was pushing their chips in for that season in an effort to go after a playoff spot and needed the veteran hurler more than they thought they needed the prospects he might return in trade. The trade deadline came and went with the team pretty much out of contention and Kennedy remained on the roster. In November, he hit free agency and come January he had signed a 5 year, $70 million contract with the Royals. The Padres gambled that he would get such a get and offered him a one year qualifying offer that, when declined by Kennedy, earned the club a 2016 draft pick at the end of the 1st round. That is all the return the franchise will see for one year of Kennedy that won't leave much of a mark in the team's history.
For the 2016 season, the Padres seem to have started down a similar path with Andrew Cashner. They have already mentioned some idea of contending this season, however that should be met with some healthy skepticism. Despite that, perhaps they still explored an offseason trade. Whatever the case, they seem to be committed to him for now and there's talk that they are hopeful that he returns to the success he had in 2014. This decision has already been panned in some circles. Cashner's value is decently high before Opening Day rolls around because the acquiring team could do the qualifying offer thing at year's end and get a draft pick after him helping with their playoff aspirations. Once the season starts, the only team that can do that will be the Padres. That will leave the Friars with a choice come the trade deadline as to whether to deal him then or hold onto him for that one draft pick. Perhaps those aforementioned hopes of a bounce back will manifest into a real bounce back year and his increased value will make up some ground. Perhaps not. It's a gamble the Padres are, once again, making with a member of their starting staff.
I don't want this to come off as overly critical. This post really isn't about trying to find yet another flaw with the Padres. It's more about noticing a pattern. The Padres did something similar with Ian Kennedy and seem to be repeating history by doing it with Andrew Cashner. For a team that probably needs to look towards the future than the present, this tact seems to be a curious one that bears watching.