Braves acquire pitcher Trevor Cahill

The Atlanta Braves have completed a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks, acquiring right-handed pitcher Trevor Cahill in exchange for minor league outfielder Josh Elander.

tcahillCahill will likely enter into the rotation mix as the fourth starter, pushing either Wandy Rodriguez or Eric Stults out of the competition. The 27-year-old Cahill is a former top prospect for the Athletics who had one really great year in 2010, when he was 18-and-8 with a 2.97 ERA.

He was a slightly above average pitcher for two years after the Diamondbacks acquired him during the winter of 2011, but last season he was pretty awful. He was bumped from the rotation and relegated to the bullpen.

Cahill made an adjustment in his delivery this spring, raising his arm angle to be more over the top rather than three-quarters. The Diamondbacks’ SweetSpot blog In the ‘Zona has a great description (and video) here.

Arizona will apparently be paying a little more than half of Cahill’s $12 million 2015 salary. He has team options for 2016 and 17 at $13 million and $13.5 million, with low buyout thresholds.

As for the player the Braves gave up, Josh Elander was a 6th-round pick from the 2012 draft. He was selected as a catcher, but moved to the outfield with good success. He lit up low-A Rome in his first full season in 2013, but struggled after being promoted to high-A Lynchburg. He repeated Lynchburg last year, and struggled again, but spent much of the year on the disabled list with a left shoulder injury.

Josh Elander (photo by CB Wilkins)

Josh Elander (photo by CB Wilkins)

He was ranked among the top-15 Braves prospects from 2013 to 14 by many prospect outlets, but went unranked by everyone this year. His struggles in Lynchburg and time missed with injury contributed to that. When he was ranked he was likely over-ranked, even by me, because he was just about the only power-hitting prospect in a Braves system that was devoid of power-hitting prospects. He was completely expendable from a prospect standpoint.

I suppose this was a good trade, though it’s kind of a weird acquisition. Atlanta gets Cahill for virtually nothing except the $6 million they’ll owe him. He was highly thought of once, and had some good years, so there’s always that hope that he can return to that mid-rotation form.

It’s a weird move from a team direction point of view. Atlanta spent a lot of time and effort this offseason trading away the present to acquire the future. Why not give one of the young pitchers a chance in the rotation? Cody Martin pitched well this spring and seemed to deserve a chance. Mike Foltynewicz had some bumps in the road, but he’s going to have to work threw those at some point.

Surely the Braves front office isn’t drinking their own Kool-Aid about trying to put a competitive team on the field this year. Of course, acquiring Trevor Cahill likely doesn’t make the Braves any more competitive than they were before the trade. He was able to be had for a minor league outfielder who has struggled to hit at A-ball, and Arizona is paying Cahill $6 million not to pitch for them. That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement for future success.

Yeah, weird acquisition. Maybe Cahill was the only thing available out there, and the Braves felt he checked more boxes than either Wandy or Shults (we’ll see which one gets moved tomorrow).

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