Braves Make Trade for DBacks’ Trevor Cahill


We heard rumblings about this earlier this afternoon, but both the speed of the deal and the deal itself are both a bit surprising:

That last point is important. Cahill is in the midst of a contract extension deal that pays him $12,200,000 in 2015 and has options for 2016-2017 valued at $13m and $13.5m. More on that later, but there’s also a $300,000 buyout to this contract, so Bowman is off by just a bit: Cahill is thus due a minimum of $12.5 million, and the Braves will therefore end up paying him $6 million of that.

What are the Braves Getting?

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Cahill is a native of Oceanside, California and just turned 27 years old a month ago. He was originally a 2nd round draft pick of Oakland from 2006. His first taste of the majors was at the beginning of the 2009 season with the A’s.

He signed that extension in 2011, but was then dealt to the Diamondbacks during the 2011-12 off-season as the centerpiece of a trade including Craig Breslow while Jarrod Parker, Collin Cowgill and Ryan Cook went (further) West.

Cahill has had flashes of brilliance dotted with seasons of mediocrity. 2010 was clearly his best year: 18-8 with a 2.97 ERA (138 ERA+), an All-Star appearance, and a smattering of Cy Young votes.

In 2013, Cahill was hit in the hip by a liner, putting him on the DL for a month… though that might have been extended by a shoulder “tweak” at roughly the same time.

In the Spring of 2014, he jammed a knee while covering first base during a play. It wasn’t deemed to be serious, but he then went on to have a terrible season – losing his rotation slots and being placed on the trade block. However, that contract, set to balloon this season, turned into an impediment to Arizona… a problem rectified (by them) today.


Trevor has been throwing better – and was slotted in the #4 position on the DBacks’ depth chart. In 4 outings and 10 innings, he has yielded 14 hits and 5 walks, but also struck out 10 and given up 4 earned runs for a 3.60 ERA. The concern? The 1.90 WHIP that goes along with those 19 base-runners.

Cahill throws a 90-92 mph fastball, but he’s a sinkerball guy generally (~55% sinkers, ~15% curves, ~20% changeups, ~20% other stuff). If you think that erstwhile pitching coach Roger McDowell “fixed” Jim Johnson this Spring, then maybe this is what the Braves have in mind for Cahill.  Big gamble, though.

Josh Elander

Elander has been both a Catcher and Outfielder for the Braves, spending two years in the Carolina League (A+ ball) in 2013-14. He has shown some power, but to be honest, there’s most probably nothing that the Braves will miss by dealing him at the token return in what really amounts to a salary dump deal by Arizona.

Elander is already 24 years old, and he was hurt for much of 2014, playing only 37 games. We wish him well, and hope that he will have a better opportunity with Arizona, possibly getting to the Mobile Bay Bears in 2015.

The Big Question: WHY?

Having had some time to consider this deal before it went down, I am still scratching my head on this a bit. The “cover story” accompanying this was that the Braves did not want to put both Wandy Rodriguez and Eric Stults (a pair of Southpaws) back-to-back in the rotation.

As an aside, that tells me one thing: Michael Foltynewicz is about to be optioned to Gwinnett.

In the meantime… you go out and spend six million dollars to bring in a guy who isn’t demonstrably better than either of those two other guys. Interesting.

When the trade was announced, I was actually expecting to hear that some Arizona outfielder was coming over to Atlanta as well. If the DBacks had any real trade need, it was to get rid of at least one outfielder. Given the Braves’ troubles finding some offense out of the left field position, that would have made perfect sense… especially if they were taking a bad contract.

But that didn’t happen. Very curious.

Now What?

We can make some educated guesses at least (REVISED FRI AM):

  • Cahill will be added to the 40-man roster as the 4th starter.  That puts 39 names on the 40-list, which creates a big problem.
  • Foltynewicz will be optioned to AAA moved to the bullpen.  This saves a roster spot.
  • Stults will become the 5th starter, going to the bullpen on Minor’s return.
  • Rodriguez will have to be dealt.  There’s simply no roster room for him now.
  • Josh Outman will likely be released.
  • Winkler will go onto the 60-day DL… that creates one roster spot, but…
  • Roster spots will be needed for Eric Young and Kelly Johnson… and…

One other point:

  • After a 4-for-5 night, including the walk-off RBI, Joe Benson has more-than-likely made the Atlanta Braves’ opening day roster. If there was ever a chance to change that via trade, it would have been tonight during this deal.
  • So there’s 4 more names to be added to the list:  Stults, Young, Johnson, Benson.
  • All that means this:  somebody will have to be taken off the 40-man.  Probably 2 names.
  • Stay tuned – it will be a bumpy ride today!

One Additional Aspect to Consider

Well…. maybe.  But doubtful.

Bowman’s optimism notwithstanding, Trevor Cahill is not a $15 million pitcher – that number being the likely value-range for a 2015-16 Qualifying Offer that would be necessary to trigger a draft compensation pick.  SEE COMMENT BELOW.

We will see if there’s any additional fallout on Good Friday, but for now:  the Braves have added another arm to the arsenal.

Next: A Trade Preview as Braves Were Looking at Cahill