Oakland Deals Cahill, Comes Up Snake Eyes

The Oakland Athletics traded a pitcher on Friday but it wasn’t the oft-mentioned Gio Gonzalez who is headed to the Arizona desert.

The A’s traded three-year starter Trevor Cahill, along with left-handed reliever Craig Breslow, to the Diamondbacks for a collect of three prospects: starter Jarrod Parker, reliever Ryan Cook and outfielder Collin Cowgill. It’s a fairly uninspiring return for a young pitcher who compiled more than 200 innings in 2011 and won’t turn 24 until spring training.

The top prize coming to Oakland is former 2007 first-round draft pick Jarrod Parker. I recently ranked him the second-best prospect in the Diamondbacks’ system behind 2011 first – Trevor Bauer. I had this to say about him:

Parker has bounced back nicely from his injury with the help of rehab, and made his MLB debut in 2011. He features a low-to-mid-90s fastball, slider, and changeup. The right-hander doesn’t strike out a ton of guys right now but his rate should increase as he improves his command post-surgery and matures as a pitcher…. At his best, Parker should top out as a No. 2 starter. With the memories of his TJ surgery still lingering in people’s minds, his durability may be questioned for a while but he has the potential to have a long career as a Major League starting pitcher.

Parker is a nice addition. He has six years of team control remaining and — if he reaches his potential — the right-hander’s ceiling surpasses Cahill’s. It is a bit of a gamble, though, especially with his injury history.

Neither Cowgill nor Cook appeared on the Top 15 prospect list and both fell into the 16 to 20 range.

For me, Cowgill is more of a platoon outfielder than a future starter. The 25-year-old appeared in 37 games for Arizona in 2011 and produced a wOBA of just .270. He has below-average power for a corner outfielder and doesn’t have the range to play center field on a regular basis. Although the outfield depth is thin in Oakland right now, a number of the club’s top prospects are outfielders — including Grant Green and Michael Choice — who will find time with the Athletics. Those promotions would make Cowgill expendable yet again.

Cook, 24, was dealt at a perfect time because his value is at an all-time high after a breakout season. Prior to 2011 he was an inconsistent starter who had pedestrian results, but a move to the bullpen vaulted him onto the prospect landscape. He has a mid-90s fastball but lacks consistent control and is still working to improve both his slider and his changeup.

With Friday’s deal, Arizona acquired a young No. 3 pitcher who’s under contract for another six seasons and dealt a potential No. 2 starter and a couple of extra pieces. It was a great move by Arizona general manager Kevin Towers and a questionable move by A’s General Manager Billy Beane.

With Cahill now in Arizona, he makes Joe Saunders more expendable and there have been rumors that Saunders could be non-tendered at the deadline Monday night. More likely, though, the Diamondbacks will find a trade partner because of the barren free-agent market.

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The last time Oakland and Arizona teamed up for a big trade, the Athletics came away with a pretty favorable haul of young, controllable talent that included left-handed starter Brett Anderson, outfielder Carlos Gonzalez (who was later flipped to Colorado) and first baseman Chris Carter. Arizona ended up with Dan Haren.

Haren compiled 15.1 WAR during his two-and-a-half seasons with Arizona and later was flipped to the Los Angeles Angels for Saunders and another crop of youngsters that included pitchers Tyler Skaggs and Pat Corbin.

Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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Great writeup, but you might want to change the language in the first sentence. Arizona is decidedly not-North of Oakland.


Maybe north in the standings?