We get accused at times of being too dour, too pessimistic, too “the glass projects to be half-full.” We would rather think of ourselves as being “realistic”, but whatever the case, when we see the Royals make a move we like, we will be effusive in our praise about it.
In late July, the Royals threw their chips in after a hot streak, acquiring three pitchers from the Padres - Trevor Cahill, Ryan Buchter, and Brandon Maurer. Josh Duggan was about as optimistic as “Old Man” Duggan can be, writing that Cahill was an “upgrade” over internal rotation options, as well as “two shiny relievers.” Duggan was far from alone, with reactions around baseball generally positive about the deal, and a near unanimous consensus approving the deal among readers here.
Now it is early, VERY early for this deal. I mean, my goodness, it was just two weeks ago. But the early returns have uh, not been good.
Trio of Padres while with KC have combined for— Cody Tapp (@codybtapp) August 10, 2017
22 2/3 with 20 ERs good for a 7.94 ERA
"Right now there's no kind way to put it. He's a mess." - @FlannyMLB on Trevor Cahill.— 610 Sports Radio- KC (@610SportsKC) August 10, 2017
Cahill has failed to pitch into the sixth inning of any of his three starts with the Royals with an ERA of 8.18. American League opponents are hitting .345/.444/.621 off Brandon Maurer since the trade. Ryan Buchter has given up a run in three of his seven outings with the Royals with lefties hitting .444 against him since the trade.
To make matters worse (or mercifully better?), Trevor Cahill landed on the disabled list yesterday with a right shoulder impingement, with Kevin McCarthy called up and Jake Junis the likely replacement in the rotation. According to Baseball Prospectus, “shoulder impingement” is a “dynamic process or a collection of conditions rather than a single end result.” Cahill suffered a shoulder injury earlier in the year with San Diego.
Now two weeks is early, but with Trevor Cahill we’re talking about a player that will only be here for 2017 before he becomes a free agent. Two weeks is like a quarter of what will likely be his Royals career. The move was made with the urgency of this year. Cahill needs to produce. And yet, he has been below replacement level in his time in Kansas City. The Royals would have been better off going with Junis the entire time.
Could Dayton Moore possibly anticipated this? There were some red flags with Cahill. He has a history of injury, for example. He doesn’t have much of a recent track record of success - he was a minor league free agent the Cubs turned into a reliever last year, then had 11 good starts with the Padres this year. Maurer has had issues this year, and reliever performance is typically volatile, unless your name is “Wade Davis.”
But at the time, these looked like pretty good gambles. No trade is guaranteed, and the Royals had their hands tied a bit financially, and in terms of what they could offer teams to make a deal. When an injured Matt Strahm and a terrific, and an 18-year old Esteury Ruiz is the best you can offer, you are not going to land a Sonny Gray.
The Royals need this trade to work out, and the clock is ticking. Cahill will be shelved for a few weeks, and hopefully he comes back better than ever. The Royals will have Maurer and Buchter for a few years, but really, this trade was about 2017. The Royals are fading fast and need to right the ship to make their July trades seem like a good idea. Otherwise, it will have turned out this deal was a fool’s errand.