Well, it looks the latest rebuilding project has officially started over in Oakland.
It was announced today that the A’s have traded starting pitcher Trevor Cahill and Craig Breslow for prospects Jarrod Parker, Collin Cowgill and Ryan Cook.
Cahill and Parker are the same age so it isn’t like the A’s have gotten a younger pitcher, the big difference is that Cahill has three years of service time compared to zero for Parker. The Diamondbacks shouldn’t be too worried though about Chaill leaving in free agency or getting expensive in arbitration because he signed a team-friendly deal last season.
Cahill’s deal is good, but the A’s still save money here with the three years of control before arbitration and they hope Parker will be around by the time that the A’s stadium issues are finally resolved..
So what did the A’s give up here?
Cahill is a good young pitcher with a team-friendly deal, but I am not sold that he is anything special like his 2010 ERA (2.97) suggested.
Cahill is a pitch to contact pitcher who walks too many people to be elite. He gets groundballs at a high rate so the switch away from the O.co Collesum to the more homer-friendly Chase Field shouldn’t hurt him too badly.
So back to why I don’t think it’s a huge loss for the A’s — since he came up in 2009 he ranks 103rd among the 125 pitchers who have thrown at least 300 innings over that span in Fielding Independent Pitching (a stat that looks at what pitchers control most to normalize for the effect of defense).
He is dependent on the balls that he allows to be put into play to be turned into outs. While there might be some pitchers who can consistently suppress that, most pitchers don’t deviate for too long away from the average of about 30% of balls put in play falling in for hits.
Breslow is a nice left handed reliever to have around, but the A’s have decent bullpen depth so losing him shouldn’t be a major hit to the team. In addition, when you are in rebuild mode holding onto your third or fourth option out of the bullpen isn’t the biggest concern for your team.
So what did the A’s get in return?
Parker is one the very good pitchers that the Diamondbacks have groomed over the last few drafts. Until recently he was considered their number one pitching prospect and his fall is due to the other pitchers ahead of him looking better, not anything Parker has done.
He has a mid-90’s four-seam fastball that can touch triple digits from time to time and a two-seam fastball that sits in the low 90’s with good sink. His out pitch is his plus slider, and he also has a changeup that will get swings and misses. He also throws a curve ball but it’s average at best and not something he throws too often.
The big red flag for him is that he underwent Tommy John surgery that caused him to miss the entire 2010 season. Because of the injury he was slow to regain the control on his fastball that he had shown previously.
In addition the A’s also receive outfielder Cowgill in the deal. Cowgill is an okay centerfielder who can play all three outfield spots, and while he doesn’t project to be an all-star could be an everyday player or at the very least a fourth outfielder.
Giving him a chance fits well with the A’s, whose outfield situation is WIDE OPEN right now with all three starters leaving. Taking a look at the Bill James projections for him he looks like he could give above average offensive production with a .283/ .341/ .434 triple slash.
The last player in the deal is relief pitcher Ryan Cook. He features a mid-to-upper 90s fastball and great sinker that has allowed him to post absurd groundball rates in the minor leagues.. He saw some action last season for the Diamondbacks (pretty meh in his 12 appearances) and was considered their top bullpen prospect last season.
He won’t strikeout too many guys but should keep his strikeout number respectable. If he can keep his walks under control with his excellent sink he could be a valuable guy in a bullpen.
So who is the winner?
The final answer will take a little while to work itself out, but I think that A’s did pretty well for themselves in this deal. They reportedly wanted the Diamondbacks’ top prospect, Trevor Bauer, but because of rules on trading recently-drafted players it wasn’t feasible to get him in this move.
That being said I still really like the upside of Parker much more than Cahill, who seems more like a No. 3 or 4 starter with his limited strikeouts but is still a valuable pitcher to have on a team. Parker should be comparable talent-wise this season and has the potential to be a front of the rotation pitcher.
Cowgill is a good guy for the A’s to take a flyer on, at worst he is a fourth outfielder and he could potentially be a decent outfielder. Cook isn’t anything special but then again they gave up Breslow also wasn’t anything special either, and this at least gives them a bullpen arm that will be there to use when they plan to try to compete again.
This isn’t a blockbuster of a deal but I think the A’s did well to get a high upside starter, a decent outfielder and an interesting bullpen arm. Not a bad haul for Cahill.