8:55pm: A deal appears close, though the Braves still need to review Cahill’s medical records, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports (Twitter links). The Braves would be paying a little under $6MM of Cahill’s salary in 2015, and they would also obtain a compensation round draft pick in return. Via last summer’s competitive balance lottery, the D’Backs earned an extra pick between the second and third rounds of the 2015 draft. Braves minor league outfielder Josh Elander is involved in the deal, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.
6:04pm: The Diamondbacks and Braves are “on the verge” of sending Cahill to Atlanta, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports (Twitter link).
3:45pm: The Braves are discussing starting pitchers with multiple teams, according to Mark Bowman of MLB.com (Twitter links). Bowman, who also hears that Cahill has been discussed, says the Braves aren’t comfortable slotting two similar lefties — Stults and Rodriguez — back-to-back in the rotation.
3:39pm: The Diamondbacks and Braves have had discussions regarding Cahill, Piecoro adds in a followup tweet. The Braves have some uncertainty in the rotation with Mike Minor unlikely to be ready for the opener. Wandy Rodriguez, Mike Foltynewicz and Eric Stults have been competing for the final two rotation spot in Atlanta.
Rodriguez has pitched well but has been unable to stay healthy in recent seasons. Stults has a strong ERA (1.89) but has struck out just seven hitters in 19 spring innings. And Foltynewicz, though very well-regarded, has limited experience at the Triple-A level and even more limited experience in the Majors.
3:20pm: The Diamondbacks have discussed right-hander Trevor Cahill in trade talks, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Repbulic (on Twitter). There are clear obstacles to trading Cahill, however, and Piecoro adds that the team may need to eat at least $6MM of the $12MM that Cahill is owed in 2015.
Cahill, still just 27, came to the Diamondbacks in a 2011 trade that sent Jarrod Parker, Ryan Cook and Collin Cowgill to the Athletics. He enjoyed a strong, 200-inning season to open his D-Backs career in 2012, and although his ERA barely increased in the 2013 season, there were significant red flags that led to concern. Cahill’s strikeout, walk and ground-ball rates each trended in the wrong direction, and he also missed significant time after being struck on the hip by a line drive.
The 2014 season was a bit of a mixed bag for Cahill, as his walk and ground-ball rates continued to trend in the wrong direction, but he also posted the best strikeout rate (8.5 K/9) of his career. That was partly due to spending some time in the bullpen, but even as a starter, he whiffed better than eight hitters per nine. However, despite the increase in strikeouts, his bottom-line results were the worst of his career overall. Cahill recorded a 5.61 ERA in 110 2/3 innings last year and saw his once-elite ground-ball rate drop to a solid but unspectacular 48.5 percent. A fluky strand rate didn’t help his cause, but there are certainly reasons to be concerned for a soft-tossing right-hander that doesn’t miss bats and is seeing his control and ground-ball capabilities deteriorate.
If — and it’s a large if — an acquiring team were able to correct Cahill’s control and restore some of his grounders, they could have a bargain on their hands, especially if the D-Backs were to eat $6MM+ on this year’s salary. Cahill’s contract calls for a $13MM club option for the 2016 season ($300K buyout) and a $13.5MM club option ($500K buyout) for the 2017 season. Clearly, he’s a project, but given his age, some teams may be willing to dream on his 2010-12 success, knowing that in a worst-case scenario, he could be bought out for a nominal amount next offseason.
There’s reason beyond financial relief for the D-Backs to explore a trade as well. While the team has already named its starting rotation, recent indications have been that top prospect Archie Bradley was impressive enough to warrant consideration in the starting five. Moving Cahill before Opening Day would allow Arizona to slot the highly touted Bradley into that mix.