The Athletics have agreed to a one-year, major league contract, pending a physical, with right-hander Trevor Cahill, Jane Lee of MLB.com tweets. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported earlier Saturday that Oakland could target Cahill, a client of John Boggs & Associates.
With righty Jharel Cotton set to undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the entire season, the Athletics found themselves seeking starting depth on Saturday. Cahill will provide that, and he’ll attempt to grab a spot in an Oakland rotation that lacks certainty beyond Kendall Graveman and Sean Manaea. High-end prospect A.J. Puk seems unlikely to begin the year in the majors, leaving the A’s with Cahill, Paul Blackburn, Andrew Triggs, Daniel Mengden and Daniel Gossett vying for the final three spots in their rotation (depth chart).
This deal represents a homecoming for Cahill, a California native whom the Athletics chose in the second round of the 2006 draft and who began his career as an eminently effective starter for the club.
Cahill spent 2009-11 in Oakland, where he ate 583 innings and pitched to a solid 3.91 ERA, despite less-than-stellar strikeout and walk numbers (5.48 K/9, 3.35 BB/9). The A’s then shipped him to Arizona in a five-player, December 2011 trade that brought them righty Jarrod Parker, among others. Injuries have since ended Parker’s career, while Cahill has seen his effectiveness wane dating back to the end of his first Oakland stint.
The 30-year-old Cahill started 30-plus games and racked up between 178 2/3 and 207 2/3 innings in each of his first four seasons, but he hasn’t approached those figures since. He’s only a couple years removed from essentially working as a full-time reliever with both the Braves and Cubs, but he primarily functioned as a starter in 2017.
Across 21 appearances (14 starts) and 84 frames between San Diego and Kansas City, Cahill posted a 4.93 ERA/5.28 FIP and logged 9.32 K/9 against 4.82 BB/9. He also registered an impressive 55.6 percent groundball rate (right in line with his career mark of 55.1). Unfortunately, though, shoulder issues helped derail his season after the Royals acquired him in July. While Cahill managed outstanding numbers over 61 innings with the Padres (3.69 ERA, 10.6 K/9, 3.5 BB/9), he offset those by surrendering 21 earned runs on 33 hits and 21 walks, with 15 strikeouts, during his 23-frame Royals tenure.
Cahill was on the disabled list three times with shoulder and back problems during his two-team run in 2017, surely helping lead to his inability to find a job from November until now. The A’s, on the heels of the promising Cotton’s injury, are left to hope Cahill will more closely resemble the version who held his own with the Padres than the one who scuffled with the Royals.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.