Should the San Diego Padres bring a familiar face back to the starting rotation?
Over the past week, we have looked at a few different starting pitching options the San Diego Padres could target in free agency this winter, with names like Nathan Eovaldi, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dallas Keuchel, and Jeremy Hellickson all appearing to be potential fits. Let’s add one more name to the list, a former Friar by the name of Trevor Cahill.
After finding success early on in his career with the Oakland Athletics, Cahill experienced a sudden and sharp decline in production over the last four seasons, bouncing around from Arizona to Chicago to San Diego and then Kansas City before return to the A’s in 2018.
Cahill made 11 starts during his tenure with the Padres, going 4-3 with a 3.69 ERA and one of the highest strikeout rates of his career (72 K’s in 61 innings). He would later be combined with Ryan Buchter and Brandon Maurer in a deal with the Royals that led to the acquisition of Matt Strahm, Esteury Ruiz, and Travis Wood. A tremendous trade for AJ Preller and the Padres.
While with the Royals, Cahill seemed to hit a brick wall, pitching to an 8.22 ERA and walking 21 hitters in 23 innings, combined with just 15 strikeouts. Reaching 30 years of age, it appeared as if the former second-round pick was nearing the end of his major league career.
Cahill’s turnaround in 2018 and potential fit with the San Diego Padres.
Limited to just 20 starts and 110 innings, Cahill finished his 2018 season with a 7-4 record and 3.76 ERA for Oakland. Unfortunately, multiple injuries interrupted his return to the A’s, including a minor elbow injury, followed by an achilles injury that sidelined him for a full month.
While his strikeout rate remained consistent at just over eight strikeouts per nine innings, Cahill dropped his walk rate by a significant amount, down to just above three walks per nine. His home run rate decreased from 25% in 2017 to just 10% in 2018 and his groundball rate remained modestly high at just over 53%. Finishing with a 2.0 fWAR, Cahill had a solid season that very few expected.
Now, Cahill finds himself on the open market with a number of teams sure to be interested. Should the Padres take a look? Yes, here’s why.
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Per Jon Heyman and his latest piece on Fancred that breaks down the potential contract values of more than 100 current free agents, Cahill is estimated to receive a deal worth $5.5 million over one year, per the “expert” Heyman consulted for his article, and a two-year deal worth $12 million, per Heyman himself. With practically no money on the books for 2019, this is an extremely cheap deal that could turn into a big reward.
Of course, this is best case scenario, however, what if Cahill can put up similar numbers as he did this season and bring in another haul similar to the return of Strahm and Ruiz that he garnered last year? The injury concerns are high, as is the probability that he falls back to the old Trevor Cahill, but at such a potentially low cost, why not take the gamble? Even if San Diego makes this move, they can still go after any free agent they please, including an ace like Patrick Corbin.
What do you think, Padres fans? Do you take the risk here or pass on Cahill?