The Arizona Diamondbacks and Oakland Athletics have closed a deal centered on starting pitching. Arizona has given up first-round pick Jarrod Parker, outfielder Collin Cowgill and pitching prospect Ryan Cook, and receive Trevor Cahill and reliever Craig Breslow in return. Arizona are also getting 'cash considerations' from Oakland.
"We feel very fortunate to add a young, talented started like Trevor to our rotation and an extremely durable and successful reliever like Craig to our bullpen," said GM Kevin Towers. "It’s never easy to part with a prospect, but we feel like the surplus of talent that our scouting and player development staff has generated puts us in a position to build on what we accomplished this season and truly improve our team in 2012 and beyond."
Background on the players involved is after the jump. Thanks to Dan for his invaluable contributions (which would be most of what follows!).
Trevor Cahill. Cahill is a 23-year-old right-handed pitcher, who was the A's second-round pick in the 2006 draft (66th overall). He was selected out of high-school, but was fast-tracked to the majors, and has made only 44 minor-league starts: all told there, he has a sparkling 1.04 ERA there, with a 272:102 K:BB ratio in 247.1 innings of work. It's those numbers which caused Baseball America to rank Cahill the 11th-best prospect in all of baseball at the end of the 2008 season. He also won a bronze medal with the US Olympic team in Beijing.
He made his major-league debut, the month after his 21st birthday in April 2009, and has been a mainstay of the Oakland rotation since,. He had a stellar 2009, posting an 18-8 record with a sub-three ERA. But, unsurprisingly given his .237 BABIP that season, he regressed in 2011, with an ERA of 4.16. He is significantly skewed towards the groundball, with a GO/AO ratio of 1.72 in his career, compared to the MLB average of 1.07. Wikipedia has the following scouting report on him:
Cahill's best pitch is his sinker, which features excellent downward movement and ranges from 88-92 mph. His sinker is his most frequent offering and is the main reason why he gets so many ground balls. Cahill also has a changeup in the 81-83 mph range, which like his fastball also features excellent downward movement. This is a pitch that he uses frequently against left-handers to get strikeouts. Starting in the 2010 season, Cahill began featuring a 12-6 curveball as well. His curve, which ranges in the 76-80mph range, has become his main strikeout weapon, and he can get hitters to chase it out of the zone as well as freezing hitters with it in the zone. Cahill also features a rare mid 80s slider against righties, though it a below average pitch.
Cahill was signed to a long-term contract extension by the A's last April - according to Cot's Baseball Contracts, Cahill is due $3.5MM in 2012, $5.5MM in 2013, $7.7MM in 2014, and $12MM in 2015, with club options worth $13MM ($300,000 buyout) and $13.5MM ($500,000 buyout) respectively for 2016 and 2017.
Craig Breslow The left-handed Breslow is entering his second year of salary arbitration after making $1.4MM in 2011, with two years of team control remaining. Breslow's career numbers are: 3.06 ERA, 3.80 FIP, 4.40 xFIP, 3.83 tERA, 3.95 SIERA. Breslow's average fastball velocity was a career-high 91.1 mph last year according to Fangraphs, and he's coming off a 2011 season in which he posted a 3.79 ERA in 59.1 innings for the A's, with a 6.67 K/9, 3.19 BB/9, and 38.2% GB%. Breslow gives Arizona the second lefty in the bullpen that GM Kevin Towers has been looking for throughout the last year to compliment Joe Paterson.
Jarrod Parker The best piece going Oakland's way is clearly Parker, the young fireballing right-hander who has been one of the prizes of the D-backs' farm system ever since he was drafted in the first round of the 2007 draft. Parker was breezing through the minors when he tore his UCL in 2009, requiring Tommy John Surgery that kept him out the entire 2010 season. He returned to action for Double-A Mobile in 2011 and had a strong second half after recovering his command, posting a 2.84 ERA in 13 starts over the second half of the season for the BayBears, with a 56:22 K:BB ratio in 69.2 innings and no home runs allowed. Parker was ranked fourth on Baseball America's top-10 D-backs prospects list for 2012, and was ranked the third-best prospect in the system here on the SnakePit. Parker made his D-backs debut in 2011, with 5.2 shutout innings of work against the Dodgers and his first big-league hit, a double.
Collin Cowgill has been long-coveted by the A's, as they reportedly wanted him earlier in the year as a part of the Brad Ziegler trade, which the D-backs balked at (of course, the trade was eventually settled for Brandon Allen and Jordan Norberto). Cowgill was selected by Arizona in the fifth round of the 2008 draft, and spent his first two years raking in the A-ball levels of the Arizona system but struggling to stay on the field due to injuries. Cowgill had a breakout 2010 campaign with Mobile strictly by staying on the field for a full 131 games, then tore apart the Pacific Coast League in 2011, hitting .354/.430/.554 in 98 games with the Triple-A Reno Aces. That was good enough to get Cowgill called up to the big-leagues to replace the injured Xavier Nady. While with Arizona, Cowgill hit just .239/.300/.304, but played all three outfield positions capably and was a solid baserunning threat.
Ryan Cook was originally taken by Arizona in the 27th round of the 2008 draft by Arizona, spending parts of the '08, '09, and '10 seasons in the A-ball levels as a starter, with a brief cameo in Double-A near the end of the 2010 campaign. Moved to relief full-time for 2011, Cook took off, dominating both Double-A and Triple-A and earning a promotion to the big-leagues. His first stint with the D-backs was a disaster, but after some more tuning-up in Triple-A, Cook returned and dominated in a few appearances down the stretch for Arizona. Cook combined for a 7.04 ERA in 12 appearances with Arizona in 2012, striking out seven and walking eight. He works with a quality fastball that can sits at 95 miles per hour - though is rather straight - and a slider that he needs to be able to use more consistently. He hides the ball well and has a rather jerky delivery that creates a bit of deception, but also is rather wince-inducing from our comfortable positions on the couch.