When the Diamondbacks acquired All-Star starter Dan Haren from the Athletics before the 2008 season, the guiding principle was a belief in the present.
The same impetus brought young veteran Trevor Cahill to the desert on Friday as part of a five-player deal in which the Diamondbacks gave up top pitching prospect Jarrod Parker.
“We see it a window here, specifically in the NL West, after winning the division,” D-backs general manager Kevin Towers said. “We are kind of in a go-for-it mode to stay on top of the division.
“A year ago, we probably dont make this trade. But winning 94 games and being the defending NL West champs … we think we are in a better position to win now. I think you win with pitching.
Cahill will join Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson and Josh Collmenter in the D-backs rotation, with the fifth starter to be determined. As part of the trade with Oakland, the D-backs also received left-handed reliever Craig Breslow, who filled a stated Towers need for a second lefty in the bullpen.
The D-backs lost Parker, Ryan Cook and Collin Cowgill, all of whom spent a short time with the D-backs last season. Parker was expected to be the fifth starter this year, Towers said.
And while the D-backs dealt prospects, not all of the youth went West. Cahill, 23, has 40 victories in three years with Oakland and is only nine months older than Parker, who missed the 2010 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. The D-backs believe their outfield depth — prospects Adam Eaton and A.J. Pollock, in particular — is such that they could afford to move Cowgill, slated to be their fourth outfielder.
The trade also made a lot of financial sense for the D-backs, who are still playing on a budget. Cahill, 40-35 with Oakland, signed a four-year contract extension last spring that will pay him 3.5 million this year, 5.5 million in 2013, 7.7 million in 2014 and 12 million in 2015 along with options for 2016 and 2017.
Kennedy, who finished fourth in the NL Cy Young voting, is under control for three more years, Hudson for four and Collmenter for five.
“Hopefully we can keep this rotation together for a long time. We think we have four young starters who are as good as anybody in the NL West, Towers said.
Towers said he is likely finished adding position players after signing backup first baseman Lyle Overbay to a 1 million deal Friday, but he remains in the market for a starting pitcher and a reliever.
Joe Saunders appears more likely to leave than stay, as the two sides remain far apart on a two-year contract. The D-backs could trade Saunders or non-tender him before the Monday deadline for offering him salary arbitration. He could make about 8 million through arbitration in 2012.
“Id say there is a pretty significant gap right now in where they are at and where we are at,” Towers said of the negotiations. “We have budget flexibility to add another starter. I cant tell you its going to be Joe. It may be somebody externally.
“We still have a few days before we have to make a decision. Hes still somebody that we covet, as well as some other free agents. Were still looking to add another starting pitcher. If it is not Joe Saunders, it is another free agent. And there are actually some other trade opportunities that may present themselves.
“D-Day is Monday on what we have to do with Joe. Well certainly have to make a decision if we sign him or if we trade him or if we non-tender him. I cant tell you at this point in time what is going to happen.
Cahill, who turns 24 on March 1, was part of the As young rotation that included Gio Gonzalez and Brett Anderson, who with Carlos Gonzalez was one of the two principal components in the six-player package brought Haren to the D-backs in the winter of 2007.
Cahill had his best season in 2010, when he opened the season in the minors but was recalled shortly thereafter and went 18-8 with a 2.97 ERA in 30 starts. He was 10-13 with a 4.63 ERA in 2009 and 12-14 with a 4.16 ERA last year. He also has been durable, starting 96 games and throwing 583 innings.
“A sinkerball pitcher, which we think plays well at Chase Field, Towers said. A proven winner. Innings eater. A young guy who we think only is going to get better.
Cahill said of the trade, “I really liked Oakland and I was comfortable over there. It looks like the Diamondbacks want to win, and I really want to compete and try and win a championship.”
Breslow, 31 is not a situational left-hander like Joe Paterson but can be used for an inning at a time or even multiple innings, Towers said. Breslow, 12-17 with a 3.06 ERA in six seasons, originally was signed by Towers when he was in San Diego.
“Obviously, these are two different organizations going in two different directions. Im excited to be on the receiving end of this one,” said Breslow, who attended Yale. “(The Diamondbacks) have a pretty good thing going, and I think were going to fit in pretty smoothly and help build on what they did last year.”
The D-backs clocked Cooks fastball at 100 mph at Class AA Mobile last season, but he was behind Bryan Shaw in the bullpen pecking order and did not make the postseason roster. Parker did.