|The Diamondbacks borrowed against their future—dipping into their stout Double-A Mobile prospect pool—to acquire one of the top arms available on the trade market, sending 23-year-old righthander Jarrod Parker and two other prospects to the Athletics for groundball machine Trevor Cahill and lefty reliever Craig Breslow. Oakland also received center fielder Collin Cowgill, fresh off rookie of the year honors in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, and righthanded reliever Ryan Cook, who jumped from Double-A to the big leagues in July.
Few organizations have fared better at importing starting pitchers than the Diamondbacks, and Cahill now joins a distinguished list of starters acquired via trade. The Diamondbacks' 2011 playoff rotation consisted of Ian Kennedy (acquired from the Yankees in December 2009), Daniel Hudson (White Sox, July 2010), Joe Saunders (Angels, July 2010) and Josh Collmenter, the only homegrown starter of the bunch. Cahill pounds the lower part of the strike zone with low-90s sinkers, mixing in a good changeup and breaking ball, and ought to complement Arizona's starting corps. He led qualified American League pitchers this season with a groundball rate of 55.9 percent, and at 52.5 percent he ranks behind just Justin Masterson, Fausto Carmona, Ricky Romero and Brett Anderson over the course of the past three seasons.
Righthanded batters hit Breslow hard in 2011 (.866 OPS), but he has shown no platoon split for his career.
Arizona and Oakland hooked up for a similar established starter-for-prospects swap four years ago when the A's shipped Dan Haren to the Diamondbacks for a package of six players centered around Brett Anderson, Carlos Gonzalez and Chris Carter. Anderson and Carter remain with the organization, while Gonzalez (and Greg Smith) helped the A's fetch Matt Holliday, and Aaron Cunningham begat Scott Hairston.
|Jarrod Parker, rhp
Born: Nov. 24, 1988 in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 195. Bats: R. Throws: R.
School: Norwell HS, Ossian, Ind.
Career Transactions: Selected by Diamondbacks in first round (ninth overall) of 2007 draft; signed Aug. 15, 2007 … On disabled list, April 8-Sept. 7, 2010.
Signed for $2.1 million as the ninth overall pick in the 2007 draft, Parker ranked No. 1 on the Diamondbacks prospect list for three years. He made a strong comeback after missing 2010 following Tommy John surgery, especially in the second half when he regained his command and added an effective two-seam fastball. He made his major league debut in late September and earned a spot on the postseason roster. Parker has streamlined mechanics that allow him to get excellent velocity out of a smaller frame. He usually works in the mid-90s and has reached 100 mph with his four-seam fastball, and he operates in the low 90s with good sink on his two-seamer. He gets swings and misses with a slider and a changeup that he throws in the 81-86 mph range. His slider rated as a well above-average offering before he got hurt, though it's more of a plus pitch now. Parker also mixes in an average curveball. His easy delivery returned after his elbow reconstruction and scouts noticed a more mature pitcher on the mound. (Bill Mitchell)
|Collin Cowgill, cf
Age: 25. Position: CF (98 G), LF (20 G), RF (8 G).
Born: May 22, 1986 in Lexington, Ky.
Ht.: 5-9. Wt.: 185. Bats: R. Throws: L.
Career Transactions: Selected by Diamondbacks in fifth round of 2008 draft; signed June 8, 2008.
Cowgill put together the best season of his four-year pro career in 2011, earning Pacific Coast League all-star recognition and a late July callup to Arizona. He filled the fourth-outfielder role for the National League West champs and earned a spot on the roster for the postseason, where he delivered a two-run single in his lone at-bat. Cowgill is the prototypical grinder, the kind of player every manager wants on his team. He has a big bat wrap in his approach that leaves him vulnerable to quality fastballs, and his sweepy upper-body swing leads to struggles with breaking balls too. Yet he makes consistent contact, providing line drives to go with some gap power and a fair amount of walks. Cowgill is an above-average runner who can steal bases, succeeding on 34 of his 39 attempts last year. He's a solid-to-plus defender at all three outfield positions and has the strongest and most accurate outfield arm in the system. He's sometimes compared to Cody Ross for his gamer mentality and bats right/throws left profile. Cowgill may never be a big league regular but can carve out a career as a useful fourth outfielder. (Bill Mitchell)
|Ryan Cook, rhp
Born: June 30, 1987 in Clovis, Calif.
Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 200. Bats: R. Throws: R.
School: Southern California.
Career Transactions: Selected by Diamondbacks in 27th round of 2008 draft; signed July 29, 2008.
Cook never posted a sub-5.00 ERA in three seasons at Southern California, but he showed enough promise for the Diamondbacks to ante up an $80,000 bonus after they took him in the 27th round of the 2008 draft. He had middling success as a starter in the lower minors before shifting to the bullpen and zooming from Double-A to the majors last season. As is the case with most pitchers, Cook showed better stuff in shorter stints, though no one expected it to jump as much as it did. He worked with an 89-93 mph fastball as a starter and suddenly had a consistent 95-97 mph heater as a reliever, topping out at 101. His fastball has riding four-seam life. Cook can miss bats with a hard splitter that he throws at 88-91 mph. He also has an 85-88 mph slider with more lateral movement than depth. He can throw the slider for strikes but doesn't always locate it well within the strike zone. Improved command is Cook's biggest need, and he got into trouble during his time in Arizona because he fell behind in the count too often. His eventual ceiling is as a set-up man. (Bill Mitchell)
|Trevor Cahill, rhp
Age: 23. Remaining Commitment: 4 years, $28.7 million, then two club options totaling $26.5 million for 2016-17.
Contract details courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts.
|Craig Breslow, lhp
Age: 31. Remaining Commitment: Arbitration eligible for 2012-13 seasons ($1.4 million salary in 2011).
Contract details courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts.