Blue Jays: Trevor Cahill is an underrated relief steal

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 16: Trevor Cahill
SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 16: Trevor Cahill /

As Spring Training comes to a conclusion, the list of free agents continues to shrink considerably. Even with a strong starting five and ample bullpen depth, the Jays should still explore additional pitching depth in the bargain bin of this year’s astonishingly slow offseason.

Among those left unsigned, Trevor Cahill is perhaps one of the more interesting stories of players who can’t seem to find a team. A hybrid starter-swingman, Cahill is best remembered for his stellar 2010 season in which he was named an AL All-Star as a member of the Athletics. That year, he pitched to a 2.97 ERA in 196.2 innings of work, finishing 9th in Cy Young voting.

Since then, he’s spent time with the Diamondbacks, the Cubs, the Braves, the Padres and the Royals. Of all the adjectives that come to mind when discussing the Oceanside, California native, the most accurate one is inconsistent. Following his aforementioned brilliant sophomore campaign, Cahill has sported earned run averages below 3.80 twice and has pitched to an ERA of 4.90 or higher in three separate seasons.

It’s been a tale of two careers for Cahill. When he’s on, he’s on. When he’s not, he gets roughed up. This historic inconsistency makes him an ideal bargain bin pickup. Last year, he signed a $1.75 million deal with San Diego, hoping to compete for a rotation spot. He would go on to pitch in 61 innings for the Friars, putting up a 3.69 ERA in 11 starts. He blew away NL West hitters with his cunning combination of an excellent sinker and a sneaky cutter.

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Things were great for him in San Diego, until he was traded in July to the Royals in a five-player deal that included Travis Wood. He was lit up in Kansas City, pitching in just 23 innings with an atrocious 8.22 ERA. His 2017 season is almost like a summary of his entire career. He’s lights out on occasion but can go off the rails if he misses the strike zone.

On a minor-league deal, Cahill could serve as a 6th or 7th starter, making spot starts or tossing some low-pressure innings out of the pen. At this point, there’s been next to no interest in his services, given the moderately plentiful crop of free agent relievers available this winter.

As we’ve seen so far this offseason, the Blue Jays are more than open to taking a flyer on some previously dominant bullpen arms. The likes of John Axford, Tyler Clippard, and Craig Breslow are all slated to make an impact to the major league squad this year, with Al Alburquerque and Jake Petricka on the outside looking in.

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Trevor Cahill fits the bill of a once successful reliever who’ll surely take MiLB deal with a chance to make it to the bigs one last time. With time running out before the season, the Blue Jays could do a lot worse than look at Cahill as a last minute addition to their loaded and diverse roster of pitchers in the upper minors.