One thing we know about Baltimore is that they have about 4.5 MM left in their payroll to spend based on the incentives structure in place on Johan Santana's contract. Assuming that Cahill wants the big league life and is perfectly fine with the worst case scenario of finishing the year out in the pen with a few spot starts, that works in terms of this year's payroll. Additionally, I really do not see how an extra 4.5 MM in space can be spent in a more efficient way to sizably increase the team's win total more than what Cahill might be capable of doing.
Next year, Cahill earns 12 MM, which seems reasonable to me considering the type of career Cahill has had.
Those numbers are basically what you would look for in a first divsion number 3 or number 4 starter. What kind of starting pitchers were signed on one year deals in the neighborhood of 12 MM last year?
A.J. Burnett 1 / 16 MM; 3.30 ERA (2013)When you look at those numbers, one might think that Cahill would fall in the 1 / 8 to 1 / 10 range. A pitcher who has had good success in the past, but has struggled of late. Of course, Cahill's current issue does not appear to be one of injury, so some value could still be retained with him in the pen. In other words, is Cahill as a starter worth the risk place on guys like Haren and Johnson? Is that extra 2 - 4 MM in salary additional cost or simply the price of insurance for Cahill to serve as a reliever? How well can Cahill pitch out of the pen?
Hiroki Kuroda 1 / 16 MM; 3.31 ERA
Dan Haren 1 / 10 MM; 4.67 ERA
Josh Johnson 1 / 8 MM; 6.20 ERA w/injuries
Cahill has been two different pitchers this year. The starter has been atrocious while the reliever has been quite proficient.
That is probably due to excessive splits this season.
What is peculiar is that his split against right handers is right in line with his career average, but his left hander line is about 35% worse than his career line. Why is this year so difficult for him?
I have no idea. I have not seen Cahill throw this year, so I do not know if anything is amiss this season. His velocity is on track. His pitches have similar movement. His is getting a typical swinging strike rate. The only thing that looks different is that left handers are teeing off him. That tends to suggest that he is not playing his fastball and changeup well off each other or maybe he has lost some command of his change up.
That unknown might contain why Cahill would be a bad pickup. Four atrocious starts are indeed a small sample size, but god awful can turn a small sample size into something more robust in the decision making process. More interesting to me is that Cahill for his deal and terms is what a reclaim project on a successful pitcher is worth for 2015. It makes the 2015 starting rotation something like Jimenez, Chen, Cahill, Norris, Gonzalez, Gausman, and Tillman. If you believe in Cahill, then you have a couple cheap rotation options that other teams could in interested in a deal to shore up other areas of concern for the Orioles.
However, do not be mistaken for Cahill to be some sort of ace. He is a mid-rotation to backend arm. His lives off his two seamer, which may be a good fit for Baltimore. The major win for Baltimore would be a play to acquire a decent arm on a one year deal and then trade Chen or someone else with one year remaining for other needs on the team.