Trevor Cahill chewed up innings for the Cubs in middle relief in 2016, making 50 appearances and finishing with a 2.47 ERA. Unfortunately, FIP tells a more accurate story, as Cahill sat at 4.35 in that indicator thanks to a 4.8 BB/9 and 0.96 HR/9. Not surprisingly, his ERA at home (2.05) was much better than his numbers on the road (3.34). Even when he showed signs of improvement with his home-run rate in the second half, that growth was accompanied by a lower strikeout rate (7.3 K/9) and still-elevated walk rate (4.0 BB/9). Although his performance graded out as replacement level last season, Cahill's pedigree and that he's relatively new to relief work should lead him into a competition for another 25-man roster spot. However, even though he signed a deal with the Padres, it seems like his days of being anything more than a spot starter are over. One path to further success for Cahill may include throwing more changeups, as opposing hitters hit .096 against his change with a meager .137 slugging percentage in 2016.
Cahill has been reincorporating his cut-fastball -- a pitch he left behind as a reliever -- in an effort to transition back to a starter, The San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Cahill had one of his better spring outings Tuesday, tossing five innings and allowing just one run while striking out seven. The veteran used his cutter four times in the loss to the Giants, citing its effectiveness against lefties. The 29-year-old is a leading candidate to make one of the Padres' final two rotation spots, and Tuesday's dominant outing only helps his case. Cahill has been a middling starter in the past, but his improvements in 2016 as a reliever, coupled with his new pitcher-friendly ballpark, make him an intriguing target in deeper formats and a possible streaming candidate in standard leagues if he wins a starting job.
The Padres narrowed the competition for their final two rotation spots to five candidates, and Cahill appears to be the front-runner to claim one of those spots, The San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Cahill has been sharp in his three spring training appearances, posting a 2.25 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP over eight innings. His strong start, coupled with his success with the Cubs last season (2.74 ERA), have put the veteran in a prime position to make the Padres' rotation out of camp. If the 29-year-old makes the staff, he won't possess enough upside to become a must-add in standard formats, but those in deeper leagues may find value in a ground ball pitcher who starts half his games in pitcher-friendly Petco Park.
Cahill continued his early spring training success Monday, tossing three shutout innings while striking out two and walking one in a win over the White Sox. Cahill has thrown five innings this spring without allowing a run. The veteran swingman is competing for a rotation spot out of camp. While he has had better success as a reliever than a starter, the Padres are starved for reliable rotation options and Cahill could fit that bill. It is tough to pinpoint what to expect from the veteran if he does secure a rotation spot, because of his mediocre track record as a starter (4.14 ERA) compared to his success as a reliever (3.24 ERA). One warning sign to take away from his successful 2016 campaign with the Cubs was his lack of control (4.8 BB/9), even as a reliever, which led to a 4.35 FIP.
Cahill will compete for a rotation spot this spring, but the Padres are open to using him as a reliever as well, AJ Cassavell of MLB.com reports. This should come as no surprise considering Cahill's history as a swingman in the past. The soon-to-be 29-year-old has found more success in the majors as a reliever (3.24 ERA) than as a starter (4.14 ERA), but the Padres are so thin in the rotation that they will consider him as a potential option before simply making him a bullpen arm. If Cahill were to enter the season as a starter there would be some deep league intrigue surrounding him when you consider his newfound success -- albeit as a reliever -- and the home ballpark he will be pitching in.
Cahill will sign a one-year, $1.75 million contract with San Diego, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports. Cahill is coming off one of his best seasons, in which he posted a 2.74 ERA over 65.2 innings in relief for the Cubs. The right-hander, a former starter with Arizona back in 2014, could be a candidate to join the Padres' starting rotation, since multiple spots are seemingly up for grabs.