Dylan Cease Trade Buzz is Picking Up Ahead of Opening Day

With the Yankees, Rangers and Padres all potentially in on Dylan Cease, the Chicago White Sox might finally pull the trigger on a trade.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - OCTOBER 05: Dylan Cease #84 of the Chicago White Sox looks on against the Minnesota Twins at Guaranteed Rate Field on October 05, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Every since the White Sox failed to met expectations last year, there has been a ticking clock on Dylan Cease’s time left in Chicago. At first, we thought Cease would be moved at the trade deadline, like Lucas Giolito and many other White Sox pitchers who were dealt to help spark a rebuild.

Unlike those other arms that were moved though, Cease still had the one thing that is most valuable in the game. Team control.

The runner-up for the AL Cy Young back in 2022, Cease has the stuff to headline any rotation and the White Sox have rightfully put a high price for his services. This is because Cease will not become a free until after the 2025 season, giving them two full years of team control to play with.

Teams called about Cease this offseason, but no deal was ever made.

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The White Sox have given every indication that they would like to carry Cease into the season and let this play out until the trade deadline.

On one hand, Cease is coming off a down-year in which he pitched to a 4.58 ERA, which was more than double his 2.20 mark from the year before. On the other hand, he has not missed a start in three seasons and has a career strikeout rate of 28.1%.

As we wrote about earlier this week, Cease has looked fantastic in his early spring training starts and could really improve his trade value with a big first half.

In that scenario, the White Sox can once again dangle Cease at the trade deadline in hopes of creating a bidding war for his services among contenders. The only problem is if Cease has another down-year, or worse if he gets hurt, then they could be left holding the bag on their best trade asset.

With the recent injury to Gerrit Cole, the New York Yankees have entered the mix for Cease’s services and reports indicate they are not alone. Let’s dive into the latest trade rumors swirling around Cease and the dilemma that White Sox GM Chris Getz finds himself in with his ace.

Gerrit Cole’s Replacement in New York?

At the time of writing this article, we still have no clarity as to exactly what the prognosis is on New York Yankee ace and reigning AL Cy Young Gerrit Cole. What we do know however is that he has some form of an elbow injury that is getting multiple opinions after an MRI.

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In situations like this, it is hard not to think of the worst. Which of course would be that Cole is going to be lost for all of this season and most of next due to needing Tommy John surgery to repair a ligament in his elbow.

Even if the best case scenario happens and Cole is only going to miss the start of the season to try the rest and rehab approach, the Yankees were thin in their rotation before this injury news. They traded most of their starting pitching depth in the deal to acquire Juan Soto and have only signed Marcus Stroman to address their rotation needs this offseason.

It is just spring training, but Carlos Rodon has allowed three home runs in his first two starts, which does not quell any concerns about his ability to be a frontline guy again after a rough first season in the Bronx.

The Yankees were counting on Stroman, Rodon, Nestor Cortes and Clark Schmidt to fill out their rotation, with Cole being the anchor that held everything together. For a team that HAS to win-now with only one year of control on Juan Soto, losing their ace would be an unmitigated disaster.

Clayton Beeter and Luke Weaver represent their depth options, after shipping Michael King, Johny Brito, Randy Vasquez and top pitching prospect Drew Thorpe in the deal for Soto.

The Yankees could enter the free agent market and try to sign Blake Snell or Jordan Montgomery, but since they are past all tax thresholds, that would require being taxed 110% for every dollar they spend. This would turn $35 million for Snell this year into a $73.5 million expenditure.

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All of sudden, you can see why Cease and his $8 million contract have become very attractive to Brian Cashman, Hal Steinbrenner and the New York Yankees.

Outside of Jasson Dominguez, who is injured and likely untouchable anyway, the Yankees are trying to keep Spencer Jones out of any trade talks for Cease. That would leave their top pitching prospect Chase Hampton, or top shortstop prospect Roderick Arias as the potential headlining pieces of any Cease trade.

You could also see the White Sox ask for young pieces off the Yankees MLB roster, such as Everson Pereira, or Oswald Peraza. For a full breakdown of what the Yankees might have to offer, check out our top 15 prospects in their system heading into 2024.

Could the Rangers Have the Best Offer?

Ken Rosenthal published a story to the Athletic late on Tuesday night breaking down the latest he is hearing regarding Dylan Cease being traded. The Yankees were hardly mentioned in the piece.

Instead, Rosenthal paints the Texas Rangers as the team who could be further along in the process of trading for Cease, as they are in desperate need of improving their first-half starting rotation.

The Rangers will eventually get former Cy Youngs Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom back into the fold for the second half, as well as Tyler Mahle, but in the meantime Nathan Eovaldi could use some help headlining the Rangers rotation.

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Enter Cease.

According to Rosenthal, a trade package centered around utilityman Ezequiel Durán, and pitching prospects Brock Porter and Jack Leiter has been discussed.

Rosenthal says the following about the current state of the trade talks, “The question for the Rangers is whether they would be willing to meet the White Sox’s desired return, which according to sources is in the range of these three players, if not them specifically: utility man Ezequiel Durán and pitching prospects Brock Porter and Jack Leiter.

It doesn’t take a genius to read between the lines there when Rosenthall says, “if not them specifically” to understand that a package of Durán, Porter and Leiter would get the job done for the White Sox.

Durán is coming off a really solid first full season in the big leagues, in which he hit .276/.324/.443, with 14 home runs and posted a 107 wRC+. Capable playing pretty much anywhere on the diamond, the 24-year-old played 20 games or more last year at third base, shortstop and left field.

With a loaded young roster that is going to enjoy full seasons of top prospects Wyatt Langford and Evan Carter in the outfield with Adolis Garcia and Leody Taveras, along with an infield that will have Corey Seager, Marcus Semian and Josh Jung, Durán is expendable.

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However, Seager might miss Opening Day due to injury and has a long history of missing time. Durán is exactly the type of utilityman that every contending team needs over a full 162-game season, who can fill holes all over the field whenever an injury pops up.

He is also a real candidate to breakout this year if he gets the requisite playing time, something the White Sox are clearly counting on by prioritizing him in a Cease trade.

On top of Durán, a package of Porter and Leiter is a hefty one to pay for Cease, as the Rangers would be dealing two of their best three pitching prospects.

Drafted in the fourth round out of prep school back in 2022, Porter is considered by some to be the top arm in the Rangers system after he pitched to a 2.47 ERA in 21 starts and 69 1/3 innings pitched in Low-A last year.

Meanwhile, Leiter has seen his stock drop some since going No. 2 overall back in the 2021 MLB Draft, but he is still an extremely high upside arm at just 23 years old.

If the White Sox can get the Rangers to send that haul for Cease, they should absolutely pull the trigger, but that offer is likely not on the table just yet or it would have already been sent into the league. Texas has the capital to get the deal done, it’s just a matter of putting the chips in.

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Other Teams on the Hunt for Cease?

In Rosenthal’s report for the Athletic, he mentions three teams directly. The Rangers, the Yankees due to the Cole injury, and the third team is the San Diego Padres.

According to Rosenthal, the White Sox have been extensively scouting the Padres farm system, in a “similar fashion” to how they have been all over Rangers camp. This really is a great time to get your eyes on talent during spring training, with so many teams clustered together.

A.J. Preller is always a Wild Card when any talented player is on the market, and his ability to scout has kept his farm system replenished despite the frequency at which he trades from it.

For a full breakdown of what the Padres could offer in a trade, check out our top 15 prospects in the Padres system.

There could always be another mystery team lurking for Cease’s services, but if the White Sox have three teams on the hook right now in negotiations, there is every chance a deal could get done by Opening Day.

GM Chris Getz has had a price on Cease all offseason. Maybe now is the time where a team gets desperate enough to meet it.

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