OAKLAND, CA: Trevor Cahill #53 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Texas Rangers during an MLB basebll game at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
The Arizona Diamondbacks have bolstered their pitching staff, acquiring starter Trevor Cahill and reliever Craig Breslow from the Oakland A's for Jarrod Parker, Collin Cowgill and Ryan Cook.
Gio Gonzalez Gio Gonzalez Gio Gonzalez. Seemingly out of nowhere, Oakland Athletics starter Gio Gonzalez started getting a lot of trade attention, and recently he showed up in a number of rumors. With a thin free agent market for starters, Gonzalez was being viewed as an obtainable alternative.
He'll be going along with reliever Craig Breslow, and going the other way are outfielder Collin Cowgill, starter prospect Jarrod Parker, and reliever Ryan Cook. It's a trade the Diamondbacks made to get better now, and it's a trade the A's made to get better down the road. Per usual.
We'll start with Cahill, because he's the biggest piece. Cahill is 23 years old, and he's already made 96 starts in the major leagues, posting a 3.91 ERA and a 107 ERA+. He doesn't exactly limit his walks or rack up the strikeouts, but he generates a ton of ground balls, because he throws a sinker that looks like this:
He's good now, with room to develop, and more, he's under guaranteed contract through 2015, with 2016 and 2017 club options. I said above that the Diamondbacks are looking to win now, but Cahill isn't a rental. He'll be around for a while. In 2012, he'll share the front of the rotation with Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson.
Next, Breslow. Breslow's a 31-year-old lefty reliever who can hold his own against righties, and if you want to feel just really great, here's Susan Slusser:
Breslow tells me: "I've been on the other side, not being desired.... I've never been traded to a team that wants my services."
Now for the return. Cowgill's a 25-year-old righty-hitting outfielder who should help fill in Oakland's depressing depth chart. He's racked up just 100 plate appearances of major league experience, but he batted .354 last season with triple-A Reno, with a .984 OPS, and he's capable of playing center field. Cowgill has some kind of limited upside.
Parker is the main prize. The ninth overall pick in 2007, Parker missed the entire 2010 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but he bounced back to have a successful 2011, and Tommy John isn't nearly as scary as, say, a shoulder problem. Tommy John isn't really scary at all. John Sickels recently gave Parker an A- grade as a prospect, which isn't a grade that Sickels hands out to just anyone, and the 23-year-old righty starter offers serious upside. He could stand to boost his strikeouts, but the talent is there.
Finally, Cook. Cook's a 24-year-old righty reliever who was terrible over a handful of major league appearances last season. He was better in triple-A, though, and better than that in double-A, and he throws a fastball in the mid-90s. So there's a chance that he has a long career. There's also a chance that he has a very short career. Baseball can be very nice or very mean.
Overall, my first instinct is to say that this isn't a great return for the A's. At the same time, it's not like they got jobbed, and there's some reason to worry about Cahill since his velocity dropped a little last year and his strike rate is low. So I'm going to go ahead and call it fair, with error bars. One should note that Arizona is also receiving some cash considerations. We'll see if this makes the Diamondbacks more likely to trade Joe Saunders, rather than try to sign him to a new contract, as they've recently been trying to do.