OAKLAND (CBS / AP) — Kevin Towers sees an opportunity for the Arizona Diamondbacks to defend their division title, and he isn’t about to sit still.
The NL West champion D-backs added a front-line starter Friday and boosted their bullpen, acquiring pitchers Trevor Cahill, Craig Breslow and cash from the Oakland Athletics. And Towers isn’t done — he still hopes to add another starter, though it’s unclear if that will be Joe Saunders with the sides still far apart in negotiations.
The A’s received starting pitcher Jarrod Parker, outfielder Collin Cowgill and reliever Ryan Cook in the trade Friday, all players the A’s envision could be on the major league roster in 2012.
Towers has been committed to winning with pitching since he took the job as Arizona’s general manager, and it paid off in his first season. Cahill will complement a talented rotation featuring 21-game winner Ian Kennedy and 16-game winner Daniel Hudson. Arizona won 94 games — 29 more than in 2010 — under manager Kirk Gibson on the way to a surprising division title over the 2010 World Series champion San Francisco Giants.
“We see a window after winning the NL West. We’re in a go-for-it mode to stay on top of the division,” Towers said. “We feel we’ve got a young starter to go along with Daniel Hudson, Josh Collmenter and Ian Kennedy. Hopefully, we can keep this rotation together for a long time. We’ve got four starters we feel are as good as anybody in the NL West. With Trevor in the fold we feel our rotation is that much better.”
The Diamondbacks lost in the first round of the playoffs to Milwaukee in five games and are determined to get back in 2012.
A’s GM Billy Beane, meanwhile, is in rebuilding mode with the hopes that the club will be able to build a new ballpark in San Jose and move out of the rundown Oakland Coliseum in a few years.
“These are two different organizations going in two different directions,” Breslow said. “I’m excited to be on this end of this one, with a team competing for a World Series championship.”
Cahill, who in April was rewarded with a five-year contract worth $30.5 million, went 12-14 with a 4.16 ERA in a team-high 34 starts. His deal from the A’s took him through all three of his arbitration-eligible seasons and first potential year of free agency.
It was a tough choice to part ways with the 23-year-old Cahill, a second-round draft pick in 2006 who started 2011 with six straight wins. He made his first All-Star team in 2010.
“It’s not easy to trade a guy like Trevor, or Craig, who have been a big part of our major league roster the past two seasons,” Oakland assistant general manager David Forst said. “Every so often we have to reshuffle the deck. It was a chance to get back a good package. We like what we got back. In addition to Jarrod, who’s a top-of-the-rotation guy, we got back two other major league-quality players who could impact our roster in 2012.”
Cahill made $500,000 in 2011. He is set to earn $3.5 million in 2012, $5.5 million in 2013, $7.7 million in 2014 and $12 million in 2015. There’s a $13 million club option for 2016 with a $300,000 buyout. If that option is exercised, Arizona can exercise a $13.5 million option for 2017 with a $500,000 buyout. The 2017 option price would escalate to $14 million if Cahill finishes among the top two in Cy Young Award voting in any year from 2011-16.
The 2016 and ‘17 options and buyouts also can be voided if he is first or second in Cy Young Award voting from 2011-16 and has been traded.
“The Diamondbacks want to win and I really want to compete and win a championship,” Cahill said.
Both Cahill and Breslow expressed their surprise at being traded. All week during the winter meetings in Dallas, it was Gio Gonzalez’s name that kept coming up as the main pitcher in trade talks.
The A’s sent reliever Brad Ziegler to the D-backs in a July trade, so they will have a reliable sounding board in the clubhouse with their new team.
“I’d heard a lot of other guys’ names bouncing around. The last couple days I never thought I’d be the first one to go,” Cahill said. “I really liked Oakland, I was comfortable. … I definitely thought I’d be with them a little bit longer. Their history, they usually keep guys (while) they don’t make too much money and then trade them off for prospects. That’s kind of the cycle.”
Arizona selected Parker with the ninth overall pick in the 2007 draft, and it was hard for Towers to give him up. The right-hander finished with an 11-8 record and 3.79 ERA in 26 starts for Double-A Mobile last season, striking out 112 batters and walking 55 in 130 2-3 innings.
Parker made his major league debut on Sept. 27, pitching 5 2-3 scoreless innings and allowing four hits against the Los Angeles Dodgers for a no-decision in his only start.
The Diamondbacks chose Cowgill in the fifth round of the 2008 draft. He has a .239 average with one a home run and nine RBIs in 36 games in the majors last season.
Cook compiled a 2.21 ERA with 19 saves in 48 relief appearances at Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Reno last season. He also appeared in 12 games in the majors, going 0-1 with a 7.04 ERA in 7 2-3 innings.
Forst said both players the A’s traded understood the business side of the swap.
“Trevor never gets too high or too low with anything,” Forst said.
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