In a move which was somewhat unexpected, the Diamondbacks cut the umbilical cord with pitcher Trevor Cahill.
Unexpected in the sense of the money involved but it became apparent that patience had run thin. Exiled from the starting rotation after four starts and languishing in the purgatory of the bullpen, Cahill was trapped between inconsistency and unpredictability.
In the transaction announced by the Diamondbacks late Monday afternoon, the team has 10 days to decide on four possible options. Arizona can send Cahill outright to the minor leagues, they can option him to the minors, they can release or trade him.
For this season, Cahill is owed $7.75 million and is guaranteed $12 million for 2015. The Diamondbacks also have a $300,000 option for 2016. Given his designation and the dollars involved, the D-backs will have a difficult time trading Cahill.
Meeting with reporters after the announcement was made, general manager Kevin Towers did not indicate which way the organization is leaning but only to say, “there are a number of issues we need to settle before we make a decision. When that happens, I’ll be happy to discuss this with you.”
That would mean the Diamondbacks have until June 19 to decide what to do with Cahill, who, many believe, is the poster child for underachievement.
Both field manager Kirk Gibson and Towers expressed confidence in Cahill and both said, independently “we believe in him.”
Over the last season and one-half, Cahill’s production bordered on the dreadful.
After losing 7-5 to the Dodgers in his first start of the 2014 season, Cahill went on to lose twice to both the Dodgers and Giants. After dropping an 8-6 decision to L. A. on April 13, Cahill was sent to the bullpen and his spot in the rotation was taken by Mike Bolingser.
Until his demotion Monday, Cahill appeared in 19 games and compiled a 1-6 record. His ERA of 5.66 was the second highest on the team. Only Randall Delgado (6.91) is higher.
“We think Trevor is best positioned as a starter and his mind set says he wants to be a starter,” Towers said. “We can’t see him being an effective starter by pitching occasionally out of the bullpen.”
Towers indicated the move to designate Cahill is not unusual and teams, from time to time, must make difficult decisions.
“Mechanically, (Cahill) had a tough time being consistent,” Towers added. “No, what we did was not unprecedented.”
While the Diamondbacks say they hope for the best for Cahill, neither Gibson nor Towers expressed any reservation about making the move.
“We’ve been talking about this for some time,” Gibson said during his usual pre-game media session Monday. “I’ve talked with (Towers) in depth and we need to find a way to get (Cahill) better.”
For his part, Cahill told reporters he has only one goal in mind, and that is the regain his spot in the rotation. Somber and bordering on the emotional, Cahill indicated he was not totally committed to a minor league assignment but said he will talk with Towers, Gibson and others in the coming days.
“I don’t belong in the bullpen,” he said softly. “I still believe I can be a starter and hope it’s with this team.”
Cahill said he knows the issues on the table and willing to work to correct wrongs of the past. Yet, part of the responsibility of the coaching staff to point the proper direction.
“I need to have better fast ball command and be consistent,” he said. “I want to get this turned around and the organization has been nothing but supportive.”
For now, Cahill is simply waiting for the 10-day period in which the Diamondbacks will make their decision. In the meantime, it’s a waiting game on this resolution, and in the end, it’s likely a waiting game to see how or when Cahill can be a productive pitcher at the major league level.
ELSEWHERE ON MONDAY …
The Diamondbacks placed infielder Eric Chavez on the 15-day disabled list and added two pitchers to the 25-man roster.
Reliever J. J. Putz was reinstated from the disabled list and the D-backs also recalled reliever Will Harris from Triple-A Reno.
“Right now, we’re a little short in the bullpen and need some fresh arms,” said manager Kirk Gibson prior to Monday’s home game with Houston. “I’m concerned about guys in the bullpen.”
As well, Gibson indicated closer Addison Reed is under treatment for a’ tired arm” and has experienced a loss of velocity in his fast ball. Still, Reed should be available when, Gibson said, “the game situation dictates.”
At Reno, Harris was 3-2 and a 1.13 ERA in 20 games. On the DL since May 6 with right forearm tighness, Putz appeared in 13 games so far this season, compiled a 1-0 mark with a 5.40 ERA.
Now on the DL, Chavez was hitting .246 (17-for-69) with three home runs and eight RBIs in 43 games.