Diamondbacks designate Trevor Cahill for assignment in surprising move
Earlier Monday, Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson told the media that he wanted to find a way to get Trevor Cahill, late of the rotation and pitching out of Arizona's bullpen, back into his starting five. Cahill, who had been thrashed in his first four starts of the season before losing his job, had been relegated to the longman role in Gibson's bullpen and hadn't seen much use there, appearing in only seven games in all of May. As such, Gibson figured there had to be a better way to use his 26-year-old right-hander was in the rotation.
"He's kind of our long guy and he's been pitching when we've been behind," Gibson told Arizona Sports 98.7. "We're going to have a discussion, but really we'd like to get him back in the starting rotation somehow. We're going to have to figure out a way to do that and get him lengthened out."
By the end of the day Monday, Arizona had found its solution, designating Cahill for assignment. Thanks to the combination of the $17 million still left on his contract and his wretched 2014 numbers, it's almost a guarantee that no team will claim Cahill off waivers. On top of that, he has reportedly agreed to accept an assignment to Triple-A once the 10-day waiver period is complete.
It's a drastic measure to a problem the Diamondbacks didn't see coming, as Cahill — acquired from Oakland for Jarrod Parker, Ryan Cook and Collin Cowgill — has largely failed to deliver results since coming to the desert. His stats have declined across the board since his first season in Arizona back in 2012, and his peripherals have shown a pitcher struggling with his control and to put hitters away. His ERA+ has gone from 108 to 96 to 66 with the Diamondbacks; along that same time frame, his walk rate has almost doubled.
It all came to a head in the first month of this season, as Cahill gave up five or more earned runs in three of his four starts and only once got past the fifth inning. In those 17 2/3 innings, Cahill walked 13 and allowed 18 earned runs for a frightening 9.18 ERA; his final start, in which he walked five and gave up seven earned in four-plus innings, got him the boot. From there, Cahill was dumped to the bullpen, where he pitched better (a 3.04 ERA with 27 strikeouts in 23 2/3 innings), but his first three appearances in June — three earned in two innings on six hits and two walks — apparently convinced Gibson and the team's front office that his stint as a reliever wasn't going to produce the results they wanted.
Assuming Cahill goes unclaimed — and with his salary, that's likely — he'll head to Triple-A with no set date for a major league return. The Diamondbacks' current starting rotation has no vacancies, and the team has gotten good work from both Josh Collmenter and Chase Anderson, who ended up replacing Cahill and Randall Delgado. Veterans Bronson Arroyo and Brandon McCarthy could be moved later in the season, and Wade Miley has scuffled to the tune of an 81 ERA+ so far this season. But any decision on Cahill returning to the rotation will depend first and foremost on his results in the minors. That said, it's hard not to imagine Cahill getting another chance. With the money he's owed and the cost that was paid to get him, Arizona will likely try everything it can to get him back to being a productive starter. But for a team that's had virtually everything go wrong in 2014, Cahill's issues are just one more problem without an easy or quick solution.