Braves acquire Trevor Cahill from Diamondbacks
The Braves have been one of the busiest teams in baseball over the past six months, and that trend continued on Thursday when Atlanta acquired right-handed starter Trevor Cahill from the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Atlanta sends minor league outfielder Josh Elander to Arizona in exchange for Cahill. According to Mark Bowman of MLB.com, one source has indicated that the Braves will only be responsible for $5.5 million of Cahill’s $12 million salary.
Cahill, 27, began his career with the Oakland Athletics and was an All-Star in 2010, when he turned in an 18-8 record to go along with a sparkling 2.97 ERA. The going has been a rougher since then.
After signing a five-year, $30.5 million extension with the A’s, Cahill was shipped to Arizona in a five-player trade prior to the 2012 season. He won 13 games during his first season with the Diamondbacks, but his win totals continued to fall as his ERA and opponents’ batting averages were on the rise. Cahill went just 3-12 with a 5.61 ERA in 110-2/3 innings last season. He was demoted from the rotation in mid-April, was designated for assignment in mid-June and accepted a minor league assignment shortly thereafter. Cahill made seven starts in the minors before rejoining Arizona in mid-July.
The righty has been working on mechanical adjustments this spring in hopes of curtailing the walks that have plagued him at times, particularly last season when he turned in a career-worst rate of 4.5 BB/9. He has issued five walks against 10 strikeouts in his 10 innings of Cactus League play, turning in a 3.60 ERA in four appearances (three starts). Cahill’s contract includes a pair of option years, though Atlanta is unlikely to pick up either. He is due $12 million guaranteed in 2015, with options of $13 million in 2016 ($300,000 buyout) and $13.5 million in 2017 ($500,000 buyout).
Elander, 24, has yet to play above A-ball since being selected by Atlanta in the sixth round of the 2012 draft out of Texas Christian University. He boasts a a .275/.356/.435 slash line in 870 career plate appearances, hitting .293 with 15 homers and 93 RBI between Low-A Rome and High-A Lynchburg in 2013. Elander battled a shoulder injury and hit just .219 with two home runs in 37 games last season with the Hillcats.
With Cahill in the fold, Atlanta will continue to evaluate its options for the final rotation spot. On Friday, the team released veteran Wandy Rodriguez, who signed a minor league deal which included an opt-out clause if he was not added to the major league roster by April 3. Rodriguez, 36, has dealt with knee and arm injuries over the past two seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates and made just 18 starts, which likely factored into Atlanta’s decision. He turned in 2-0 record with a 3.13 ERA in six starts this spring, walking eight and striking out 23 in 23 innings of work.
Fellow lefty Eric Stults also signed a minor league contract and holds that same opt-out clause, but remains in camp as of early Friday afternoon. The 35-year-old is 2-0 with a 1.89 ERA in 19 innings, walking just four but striking out only seven. He stands a good chance of being named the team’s fifth starter, though rookie Mike Foltynewicz has been in the competition as well and makes his final start in Saturday’s Grapefruit League finale. Either man could factor into Atlanta’s bullpen mix as well.
Grant McAuley covers the Braves for Sports Radio 92-9 The Game. Follow Grant on Twitter.