Originally posted on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 12/9/11

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

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 uninspired return for a young pitcher who compiled more than 200 innings in 2011 and won’t turn 24 until spring training.

With a 90 mph fastball, Cahill doesn’t have a huge ceiling but he’s durable and produces above-average ground-ball rates, which should serve him well in the desert. He’s also signed to a team-friendly contract through 2015 with two option years which could keep Cahill in fangs through ’17. I won’t focus much on Cahill because Zach Sanders is breaking down Arizona’s side of the trade.

The top prize coming back to Oakland is former first round draft pick (2007) Jarrod Parker. I recently ranked him the second best prospect in the Diamondbacks system behind 2011 first rounder 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 16-20 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 – and will soon descend upon The Coliseum making 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 ’11 he was an inconsistent starter with pedestrian results but a move to the bullpen vaulted him onto the prospect landscape. He possesses a mid-90s fastball but lacks consistent control and is still working to improve both his slider and changeup.

Arizona just acquired a young No. 3 pitcher who’s under contract, , for another six seasons for 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, it makes Joe Saunders more expendable and there have been rumors that he could get non-tendered at the deadline on Monday night. More likely, though, The Snakes will find a trade partner for the pitcher given the relatively barren free agent market.

Even with the potential loss of Saunders, Arizona will enter 2012 with an exciting, young staff of hurlers that could include Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Trevor Cahill, and Josh Collmenter. Waiting in the wings are prospects Bauer, Tyler Skaggs, Pat Corbin,

* * *

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, while Arizona ended up with veteran hurler Dan Haren.

The veteran pitcher compiled 15.1 WAR during his two-and-a-half seasons with Arizona and was later flipped to the Los Angeles Angels for pitcher Joe Saunders and another haul of youngsters including pitchers Tyler Skaggs, and Pat Corbin.

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