With Yoshinobu Yamamoto off to the Dodgers, the pitching market has now become a high-stakes game of musical chairs — a ton of pitching-needy teams hoping to grab one of the few remaining seats before the music stops. So it’s no surprise that the competition is starting to heat up for the top trade target available: White Sox ace Dylan Cease.
It’s long been assumed that Chicago would at least entertain offers for Cease, as new GM Chris Getz looks to jumpstart the rebuilding process after a dismal 101-loss season in 2023. A new report from Ken Rosenthal at The Athletic basically confirms as much, claiming that the White Sox are indeed “weighing offers” for the 2022 AL Cy Young runner-up — with the Yankees and Orioles showing particular interest.
The White Sox are weighing offers for Dylan Cease, and the Yankees and Orioles are among those to express “sincere” interest, sources tell @Ken_Rosenthal.— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) January 5, 2024
The Dodgers, Cardinals and Red Sox are among the teams possibly in the mix.
The latest ⤵️https://t.co/TpqvCBEfsJ pic.twitter.com/rCzjN3Hwwh
It was only a matter of time before Cease rumors started heating up. Yes, the righty is coming off a rocky 2023 season, in which his ERA ballooned to 4.58 and he allowed nearly a hit per inning. But his upside is undeniable: Few pitchers miss as many bats as Cease does (even in a down year, he ranked in the 84th percentile in whiff rate) or have better raw stuff. A lot of teams would kill to add that to their rotation, especially considering that he just turned 28 and has two more years of team control remaining before he hits free agency following the 2025 season.
And the closer Cease gets to hitting the market, the lower his trade value becomes; the White Sox could theoretically wait until this year’s trade deadline in hopes that some desperate would-be contender makes a Godfather offer, but that also runs the risk of Cease suffering an injury or underperforming. If Getz is looking to inject young talent into his organization, Cease is his most valuable commodity, and it behooves him to pull the trigger as soon as he possibly can.
So it’s no surprise that Chicago is now fielding offers in earnest, and it’s also no surprise to see the Yankees and Orioles at the front of the line. With Juan Soto a year out from free agency and Aaron Judge and Gerrit Cole not getting any younger, New York is about as win-now as a team can get — and it’s hard to imagine them winning much of anything without making a major upgrade to their rotation behind Cole. Baltimore, meanwhile, has a very talented young core that just won 101 games and a clear need for a frontline starter if they hope to improve on last year’s ALDS flameout. They certainly won’t be the only ones in the bidding for Cease — Rosenthal also drops the Red Sox, Cardinals and, yes, the Dodgers as potential contenders, and the Giants and Rangers are also in the market for pitching help — but they’re the most logical fits given their need and the resources at their disposal.
They also have every reason to make a run at Cease rather than one of the free agents still on the market. The list of potential impact additions is three names long: Blake Snell, Jordan Montgomery and Shota Imanaga. Cease provides as much upside as any of them — yes, even Snell — and he doesn’t require a team to make a serious financial commitment into his late 30s. The Yankees have Soto’s impending free agency to consider, while the Orioles have much more young talent to dangle in a trade than they have money to spend. Obviously, Chicago’s asking price will be high — they reportedly wanted young, proven Major Leaguers in return for the righty at the 2023 trade deadline — but to a lot of teams, that’s preferable to handing out a nine-figure contract.