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Oakland A’s sign pitcher Trevor Cahill

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Finally, some veteran pitching depth.

Return of the Pterodactyl!
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s have signed free agent pitcher Trevor Cahill, reports insider Jane Lee. The deal is still pending a physical and terms are not yet known, but Lee notes that it’s an MLB contract. At some point, a corresponding move will have to be made to clear space on the 40-man roster.

The A’s found themselves in need of an emergency addition after losing starter Jharel Cotton to Tommy John surgery this week. The rotation was already thin even with Cotton, and without him the depth was almost nonexistent. Now there’s an extra veteran arm in the mix.

Cahill is a familiar face for A’s fans, having begun his career in green and gold. He was drafted by Oakland in 2006 and debuted in 2009, and in 2010 he put up what proved to be the best season of his career — a 2.97 ERA, an All-Star bid, and even a few downballot Cy Young votes.

However, Cahill’s success didn’t continue after leaving Oakland. The A’s traded him to Arizona and he ate some innings for the D’Backs, but injuries and mechanical issues soon got in the way and he washed out of both the desert and then later Atlanta. He resurfaced as a good reliever for the Cubs in late 2015 and stuck around for 2016, striking out a batter per inning out of the pen and helping Chicago to a championship.

The Padres gave Cahill another chance to start in 2017 and it went reasonably well, but after a midseason trade he finished out the campaign getting torched out of the Royals bullpen. His time in Kansas City included a DL stint (shoulder impingement), and Royals Review chalked up his struggles to the degradation of his previously strong curveball and also maybe fatigue (due to spending the year stretching back out from relief to starting).

Cahill, 2017 SD (11 starts): 3.69 ERA, 61 ip, 72 Ks, 24 BB, 6 HR, 3.40 FIP
Cahill, 2017 KC (3 starts, 7 relief): 8.22 ERA, 23 ip, 15 Ks, 21 BB, 10 HR, 10.24 FIP

Now 30 years old, it’s not yet clear what Cahill’s role will be in the early going. With Opening Day less than two weeks away, Lee opines that Cahill likely “[won’t] be ready to start when the regular season opens, but he could potentially work out of the bullpen and be a starting option down the road.”

Hot takes

Sure, why not?

The A’s clearly needed to add a pitcher. They really should have signed a cheap veteran stopgap starter earlier in the offseason, because there clearly wasn’t going to be enough depth in the rotation. Now they’ve finally done so, though you have to wonder what superior opportunities they might have missed by not doing this in December. Either way, I’m happy they opted for a relatively minor pickup as opposed to overspending (money and/or draft picks) on a more premium arm during this likely non-contending season.

Although we don’t yet know for sure, given the timing and context surrounding this signing you’d have to figure that the goal is for Cahill to either join the rotation at some point or stay prepared to do so in a pinch. On Friday Lee mentioned that the A’s expect to have an eight-man pen including a “true long man,” so it’s logistically possible for him to begin in relief while stretching himself out with an eye toward longer outings. It’s worth noting that Cahill hasn’t thrown 100 innings in a season since 2014.

Entering the day, Oakland had six candidates for five rotation spots (Graveman, Manaea, Mengden, Triggs, Blackburn, Gossett). There could be more help coming during the summer, especially in the form of top prospect A.J. Puk, but the addition of a veteran swingman should help soak up some innings.

Welcome home, Trevor!