Trevor Cahill has found his second wind with the San Diego Padres. Not long ago, his pitching days looked numbered when he was pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks, posting an abysmal ERA of 7.52 over 15 games, but as luck would have it, Theo Epstein’s crew in Chicago believed there was more to Cahill than he had been showing on the mound.
They brought Cahill in for a pure reliever role, and his ERA improved to 2.12, which even included a win that season. Of course, the 2016 season was good for Chicago, but it was also good for Cahill. As a reliever, he posted a 2.74 ERA, four wins, a 1.27 WHIP, and held opposing teams to a batting average of .201. Those were some of the best numbers of his entire career; however, he achieved those numbers as a reliever. San Diego wanted him as a starter.
Pitching for the Padres
After a solid 2016 season, teams were definitely interested in Trevor Cahill, but the problem was that most teams wanted to keep him in the reliever position. Since the Padres were offering Cahill a chance to start, he passed on those other offers for the opportunity at San Diego.
Cahill has certainly taken advantage of that opportunity. As a starter this season, he has the best ERA, the second best WHIP, and the second best Batting Average Against. The red flag is that he’s been injured twice. On April 6th, it was reported that he was suffering from a lower back strain, which caused him to miss a start. On May 14th, he was placed on the DL for a strained right shoulder and has made only one start since then.
Cahill looked good in his first start back, displaying strong movement on his breaking ball. He admitted that he didn’t have the best command on his fastball, but it didn’t matter as he pitched four and a third innings, allowing no runs and striking out four.
At this point, Cahill has proven that he’s once again a capable pitcher. Over the past 2 seasons, he has built up his resume with solid numbers. The real question is, can he continue to start? While he’s 3-2 with three no decisions this season, he’s only pitched six or more innings three times and had durability issues. And his success in Chicago was as a reliever.
The more Cahill pitches, the more he looks like a reliever, and he isn’t being stretched as most starters and his body doesn’t seem to be handling that well. He’s more than keeping up when he does pitch, but his body pays the price. Considering the most success he’s had in his entire career has been as a reliever, the Padres could try to transition him as they bring up some prospects or they could hold out hope that he’ll improve as the trade deadline approaches.
To trade or not to trade?
The big question for the Padres is whether or not to trade him. Cahill is a free agent next season, and he’s only owed about $825K for the rest of this season, which could be a cheap pickup for a team looking for short term help in their bullpen or maybe even their rotation. Cahill could offer teams a solid reliever with the ability to start in a pinch; although, Cahill may or may not want that.
The Padres would obviously prefer to get something good for trading away their best or second best starter, but that’s where things get complicated. Most teams won’t likely want to give up to much for a guy who will most probably be a relief pitcher and who’s only under contract for this season.
Fortunately for the Padres, just about every team needs help with pitching this season. Big market teams with even bigger payrolls could afford to lose a little if they feel it will help them more down the stretch this season. The Cubs could make an offer, and they already have a great relationship with San Diego and a history with Cahill.
There are other options out there. There are rumors about Justin Verlander being available, and Sonny Gray is a viable option with more potential and more left on his contract. These types of options will lower Cahills value on the market, but the Padres should definitely shop him around while his starting numbers are high and see if any team bites. Their best bet might be to transition him into a reliever and use him to help mentor some of their younger starters coming up rather than risk re-injury over the next month.