Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

trevor cahill cubsAlthough it was reported last week, today the Chicago Cubs made it official: 27-year-old righty Trevor Cahill has re-signed with the Cubs on a previously-reported one-year deal worth $4.25 million.

For the Cubs, Cahill will be among the team’s depth starting options, though his career had stalled in that role at the outset of 2015. He found new life in the Cubs’ bullpen, where his two-seamer picked up velocity, his changeup was nastily paired with it, and his knuckle curve came along. Take it all together, and you had a guy who was set adrift by multiple organizations earlier in the year, then became one of the Cubs’ most reliable relievers up to, and including, the playoffs. He posted a 2.12 ERA, a 3.13 FIP, and a 2.21 xFIP in his 17.0 regular season innings for the Cubs, and looked every bit that good.

Cahill, who was believed to be looking for an opportunity to start with his next team, was reportedly told (Jesse Rogers) that he would be stretched out as a starter in Spring Training, and would have a chance to win a rotation job with the Cubs.

With injuries and/or ineffectiveness in the Spring, there is definitely a chance that Cahill could factor into the rotation mix, but it’s more likely that he stays in the bullpen, where he had so much success for the team last year. Moreover, with the addition of Adam Warren, and the retention of Travis Wood and Clayton Richard, the Cubs presently have no fewer than four pitchers who have effectively started and relieved in their careers, have demonstrated the ability to be effective in short or long relief outings, and could all be stretched out as starting depth to begin the year if necessary. Every team would love to have five to seven aces, but, since that’s not realistic, it’s great to know that the Cubs have quality depth beyond the rotation that, while serving as that depth, can also contribute meaningful innings in the bullpen.

I won’t rule out the possibility, by the way, that Cahill’s reclamation last year with the Cubs wasn’t entirely about shifting him to the bullpen. Having been an effective starter previously in his career, it is still possible that, when working with the Cubs’ pitching infrastructure, that he could return to form as a starting pitcher. I tend to think his upside as a top-notch multi-inning reliever is not only his most likely usage but also his best; still, I leave open the possibility that he could be an average starting pitcher again, and that might prove necessary for the Cubs.

Whatever his ultimate role, there’s no argument that the team isn’t better off with him in the fold. Even if last year’s bullpen breakout proves an aberration, the team risks only $4.25 million by signing him. It’s so worth it.

After the official signing, the Cubs’ 40-man roster is up to 39. That leaves just one spot for both Jason Heyward and Brendan Ryan (the rumored PTBNL in the Castro/Warren deal), which means the Cubs are likely trying to get someone(s) through waivers as we speak.

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