TOT: The Trevor Cahill Trade(s)

TOT: The Trevor Cahill Trade(s)

Transaction of Today – April 2, 2015…The Arizona Diamondbacks traded Trevor Cahill and cash ($6.5 million) to the Atlanta Braves for Josh Elander.

When the Atlanta Braves acquired Cahill right before the 2015 season, it was with the idea that he would bring depth to a rotation that also, sadly enough, included Eric Stults. However, this trade’s real value came in a separate, but connected trade. We wouldn’t know about that until a couple of days later.

We’ll circle back to that trade soon. First, let’s go over the guy the Braves acquired. Cahill was plucked out of a California high school by the A’s back in the 2006 draft. He quickly climbed to the majors shortly after his 21st birthday. In his second year with the A’s, Cahill finished with a 2.97 ERA. He was also an All-Star. At the time, sabermetric believers voiced concern. He carried a 4.19 FIP in 2010 because of a poor strikeout rate. Such concerns seemed valid the next year when the hits started to find holes and his ERA climbed to 4.16.

But scouts liked Cahill’s mound presence and felt his control was better than he had shown over his first three seasons – which was still decent enough. He was a horse on the mound and, if scouts were right, someone you could build around. Cahill lived off weak grounders and the belief was if you give him a strong infield defense, he’ll give you 200 quality innings. It was these reports – and his strong second season – that prompted Billy Beane to hand Cahill a contract extension shortly after his third season began. The extension bought out his remaining arbitration years and one free agency season for $30 million.

It was Beane’s commitment that made what happened after 2011 a bit strange. Before the four-year extension was due to begin, Beane traded Cahill, along with Craig Breslow, to the Diamondbacks for Ryan Cook, Collin Cowgill, and Jarrod Parker. Beane had, in effect, negotiated a contract extension for Arizona. The Diamondbacks’ scouts, like their counterparts with the A’s, felt Cahill had potential that could be unlocked. After one season, they looked right. In his first year with Arizona, Cahill’s K-rate jumped to a career-high 18.6%. He was finally close to a 10% K-to-BB ratio. His FIP dipped to 3.85. For the first time, he reached two-wins in Fangraphs’ version of WAR.

Injuries and a decline in his strikeout rate limited Cahill in 2013. To make matters worse, Cahill bottomed out the following season. His strikeout rate climbed – largely as a result of more bullpen action as his ERA ballooned. His control was spotty, his sinker wasn’t well-located, and he finished the year with a 5.61 ERA. Dave Stewart, who didn’t make the trade with Beane, shopped Cahill after the season. Nobody took the bait.

Cahill would fail to impress the Diamondbacks the next spring, losing out to Chase Anderson and Archie Bradley at the bottom of the Arizona rotation. Again, Stewart shopped his sinkerballing right-hander. This time, he found an interested party. John Coppolella was putting together a bottom of the rotation with spare parts to support Julio Teheran, Alex Wood, and Shelby Miller. He signed Eric Stults and Wandy Rodriguez, who competed against Mike Foltynewicz, Manny Banuelos, Cody Martin, and James Russell. Folty faltered in camp and as did Banuelos. The Braves kept Martin as a reliever while cutting Russell. There was hope Mike Minor would eventually help as well, which ultimately didn’t happen.

Cahill was another project and the Braves got $6.5M from the D’Backs that helped to pay for the righty’s $12M salary in the final year of his contract. Josh Elander, who was sent to Arizona, had made some noise in 2013 between Rome and Lynchburg. In his first full professional season, he posted a .828 OPS. A catcher when the Braves drafted him, Elander had moved to the outfield in his breakout season and looked like a possible find. He struggled with Lynchburg the following year, spending most of the season on the DL and hitting .219 when he was in the lineup.

But the Braves still balked at the $5.5M they would have to pay for Cahill. More would have to be given and that happened a couple of days later. Because competitive balance draft choices can only be traded during the season – and the Braves would only make the trade with one included – a connected but separate deal was agreed upon between Stewart and Coppy. In that deal, the Braves traded Victor Reyes to the Diamondbacks for the 75th overall selection.

In essence, the actual trade was outfielders Josh Elander and Victor Reyes of the Braves for Arizona righty Trevor Cahill, $6.5 million, and the 75th overall selection of the 2015 draft.

How did the deal turn out? Well, Elander was released after just 14 games and hasn’t played affiliated ball since. Reyes spent three seasons with the Diamondbacks as a .750ish OPS guy, playing as high as Jackson in the Southern League. He was selected in the Rule 5 draft last winter and recently made his major league debut with the Tigers. Cahill lasted a month longer than Elander but was terrible with the Braves over 26.1 innings. He appeared 15 times, including three starts, before being designated for assignment.

Cahill has since had some success as a reliever, most notably with the Cubs in 2016. He’s currently back with the A’s, where he will open the season in Triple-A before joining Oakland in mid-April.

That leaves one last part of this trade – the draft choice. It would be used on a hurt left-hander from Texas A&M University – Alex Jordan Minter. You know him better as A.J. I’d say that the deal has worked out pretty good for Atlanta after all.


The Braves, at worst, have to at least take 1 of the 3 games against Washington the next three days. Tonight’s and tomorrow’s games are ‘winnable’…while it’s going to be tough to beat Scherzer on Wednesday (Folty is pitching for The Braves on Wednesday).

Sean Newcomb has to keep the walks down/show that he can at least get into the 6th inning tonight! Julio has to outpitch AJ Cole tomorrow.

The offense has looked good/should compete with Washington (I like The Braves 6-8 spots over The Nationals 6-8 spots of the order)!

Albies is batting .125..yet The Braves scored 5 runs in each of the 1st 3 games. I look for him to have a decent series against Washington.

Newcomb needing 51 pitches to get through 2 innings tonight (already down 5-0)….is PRECISELY WHY I do not have Newcomb projected to be in The Braves Starting Rotation in 2019!

I’m SICK AND TIRED of seeing him either need 100 pitches to even make it into the 5th inning half the time..OR…when he forces a strike, hitters sit back and SMASH IT (like what Bryce Harper just did with the 3 run homer he hit in the top of the 2nd).

He’s simply a bullpen killer! Dude has a great arm…just no idea or confidence to throw strikes! The Andrelton Simmons Trade is looking more HORRIBLE with each passing day!

I know that Roger thinks that The Braves should have went after offensive improvements at 3rd via Free Agent options like Moustakis and Frazier….the bottom line is that as long as Newcomb and company cant consistently get into the 6th/7th inning while keeping The Braves in the game….The Braves will have NO CHANCE to make The Playoffs in 2018.

The Braves HAVE to win tomorrow’s game. Getting swept by Washington at home…would put us 4 games behind The Nationals a week into the season!

Two things….

All winter, you told us about how the Braves should do nothing, figure out what they have, blah blah blah. But you don’t have the patience to deal with the growing pains of watching a team figure out what they have in a player. Will Sean Newcomb’s results ever match his stuff? I don’t know. But I’m not ready to give up on him either.

Second, the Braves are going to suck ass in 2018, but that’s okay because they’ll be set in 2019 and beyond. That’s the mantra you kept saying. And now, in the first week of the season, they HAVE to win a game against the Nationals? You’re going to cite the division standings after a week into the season?

But, anyway, what did you think about the Cahill trades?

Two things:

1. I liked the Cahill Trade. Sure, he SUCKED for us AND cost us some money that we ended up eating when we released him….HOWEVER (as with The 1st Hector Olivera Trade) THE BRIGHT SPOT of The Cahill Trade…was getting the pick that turned into AJ Minter (as well as getting the pick that turned into Joey Wentz in The 1st Olivera Trade with The Dodgers). I have to give Coppy credit….even in the trades where things didnt ‘work out’ as hoped (meaning that it was FAR from the home run type trade that he hoped it would be), Coppy managed the finagle getting some ‘lottery ticket type piece’ back in the trade that he could use to somehow ‘salvage’ the trade! AJ Minter could very well make The Cahill Trade look like a BIG STEAL for The Braves a few years down the line!

2. My ‘take’ on the importance of this Washington Series. True, I said all winter that we would ‘probably’ (didnt say 100% sure, but did take the position that we would ‘probably’) SUCK during 2018 (which I was more than fine with…because of the groundwork it would lead for The 2019 Season.

However, I saw some things in Spring Training that led me to have ‘some hope’ that THIS BUNCH OF GUYS could ‘surprise’ some people in MLB (that is why I posted that I feel that this Braves team could win 86 games in 2018). However, that ‘hope’ I had…was predicated on Folty and Newcomb really being able to KEEP THE WALKS DOWN/NOT NEEDING 100 pitches to get through the 5th inning.

Newcomb simply looked like the same old Newcomb. I watched him REVERT to his old 2017 habits last night (constantly falling behind hitters..then giving up big hits when resorting to throwing MEATBALL PITCHES).

Plus, our offense should have put up MORE than 1 freaking run last night! I’m under NO ILLUSIONS of being able to win the division in 2018. However, I’d like to see this team AT LEAST be able to COMPETE (I LOVE how Flaherty and Tucker have battled during their at-bats..which has helped compensate for losing both Flowers and Suzuki during the 1st few games of the season). Ozzie Albies getting hot would help!

4 games into the season…NOT ONE starter has made it past 5 1/3 innings! The bullpen is going to get HELLA WORN OUT this year if that does not change. AJ Minter has battled staying healthy since we drafted him….using him on back-to-back nights has not been something The Braves have done very much.

Realistically..I know that we lack MIDDLE OF THE ORDER POWER in our lineup behind Freddie. However, I’d like to see us win winnable games (like tonight)..and make it at least NOT A CAKEWALK for Washington in 2018.

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