Boston Red Sox Should Sign Free Agent RP Trevor Cahill


The Boston Red Sox made a major improvement to their bullpen last week, when they made a trade with the San Diego Padres for closer Craig Kimbrel. Whether you think the Red Sox made a strong move in acquiring Kimbrel, or if you believe they gave up too much, one thing is for sure, he immediately helps their bullpen.

The Red Sox’s bullpen was an issue last season, as their 4.24 bullpen ERA was the fifth worst total in all of baseball. Closer Koji Uehara was good, but he struggled with injuries throughout the season. Primary set-up man Junichi Tazawa was decent, but appeared to be over-worked, while guys like Alexi Ogando, Tommy Layne, Robbie Ross and Craig Breslow helped fill-in with up-and-down results.

Adding Kimbrel may not have been the correct plan of attack for Boston, but will undoubtedly help the bullpen next season. With Kimbrel as the closer, Uehara will be the primary set-up pitcher if he can stay healthy, with Tazawa still likely to have a large role as well. Layne and Ross pitched themselves into some sort of role in the bullpen next season, but both Ogando and Breslow are free agents.

Between Kimbrel, Uehara, Tazawa, Layne and Ross, the Red Sox have the makings of a nice bullpen next season. That being said, there are certainly a few spots that must be filled. Jean Machi and Heath Hembree will likely also figure into the mix, but it would certainly be nice to see some competition for the last few bullpen spots.

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When searching free agency, one player stood out as a likely less-expensive option with a ton of upside. After under-going a seemingly successful transition to the bullpen with the Chicago Cubs late last season, Trevor Cahill approaches the free agent market, and he is a player who I think the Red Sox should be looking at.

Cahill was once a dominant starting pitcher, who had a ton of success with the Oakland Athletics and Arizona Diamondbacks. His career took a major downturn in 2014, when Cahill posted an ugly 5.61 ERA. The 2015 season was even worse, as the Atlanta Braves gave him a chance to prove himself, but Cahill fell flat on his face, putting up a 7.52 ERA in three starts and 12 relief appearances before getting released by Atlanta in early June.

Cahill had a short stint in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ minor league system, before the Cubs took a chance on him on a minor league deal right before rosters expanded in September. The Cubs worked with Cahill to become a full-time reliever, adjusting his delivery and teaches him to not conserve his energy so much as a relief pitcher.

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The results were staggering as Cahill become a force in the Cubs’ bullpen down the stretch, finishing the regular season with a 2.12 ERA, 22 strikeouts and only five walks in 17 innings pitched. It was undoubtedly a small sample size, but Cahill’s stuff had undoubtedly improved.

He was now showcasing strong and deceptive delivery that his the ball from the batter very well. Most importantly, Cahill was letting his fastball loose, consistent throwing the ball in the mid-90s. He showed an incredible low-to-mid-90s sinker that had a ton of movement going in to right-handed batters, and going away from left-handers.

Cahill became one of the primary set-up men for Joe Maddon and the Cubs in the postseason, where he continued to perform well. In 5.1 innings pitched through the post season, Cahill allowed only two earned runs, but he struck out eight batters, and did not issue any walks or give up any home runs. It was not a perfect post season for Cahill, but a nice showing for a guy whose career appeared to be over.

Now, I am sure the Cubs will have some interest in bringing Cahill back. They had first hand experience of his success, and it is not like they are loaded with bullpen aces. That being said, it is not like they are going to go crazy and overpay him.

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If the Red Sox value him as a solid middle inning reliever, and offer him a fair contract to do just that, I think Cahill would be pitching in Fenway Park next season.

Obviously, the small sample size of success is concerning, but Cahill really looked the part of an impressive reliever. I would love to see the Red Sox sign Cahill, as he would really help solidify the Red Sox’s middle relief, and bring some set-up man upside to the table if needed.