The Chicago White Sox wasted no time getting the deadline rolling when they traded five pitchers away in three separate deals last week to bolster their farm system in an effort to retool their roster and future.
I detailed the Lucas Giolito trade and you can read about all the others on our Deadline Tracker. With eyes set on the future now, the White Sox have a few tricky decisions to make before tomorrow’s trade deadline.
While figuring out how to move other veteran pieces and navigating what to do with former multi-time All-Star Tim Anderson are essential decisions, nothing compares to the Dylan Cease dilemma. The White Sox have just one controllable and consistently reliable pitcher left on this roster: Dylan Cease.
Although he has regressed from his Cy Young runner-up season last year, Cease is one of the more talented pitchers around and easily the best pitching asset on the market given that he comes with two additional years of team control.
While the White Sox have claimed they are planning to compete in 2024, the roster doesn’t appear to be capable of that and some of the assets that were acquired last week will need more time than that to be ready to contribute.
I believe there are a few key factors that should push the White Sox in the direction of fielding offers and ultimately cashing on the deadline’s premium asset before tomorrow night.
As we saw right off the bat with the Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo López deal, this market is a true seller’s market right now with more teams than ever pushing their chips in to compete this season.
We’ve seen many teams in just the past few weeks shift their intentions away from selling and toward becoming buyers that can contend for the World Series. With teams like the Angels, Cubs, Padres, and others seemingly shifting to buying, the market heavily favors selling teams.
There’s an unprecedented amount of buyers in a market seeking pitching and the organization has the best pitcher available. After seeing the return brought back from the Angels for Gioltio, I have no doubt the haul Cease would command would be astronomical.
Not only do many teams need pitching, but a few particular teams with the need for a starter happen to have some of the best prospects in the game. Teams like the Dodgers and Orioles make perfect sense as teams that have the need and the depth within their organization to part with substantive prospect capital.
With the rest of the available pitchers (aside from possibly Justin Verlander) being rental pitchers, the White Sox have the ability to set their bar in terms of value and see which teams will bite.
For many teams, adding a star pitcher who will be part of three playoff runs is much more appealing than dishing assets for three months of a pitcher. There is such a clear need for a controllable arm on many teams that could offer the White Sox a franchise-altering return.
Status of the System and Organization
The White Sox core has not panned out with each season getting worse in the last two years but they have an opportunity to turn this thing around in the course of one week. The organization has already taken advantage of the market by trading five pitchers last week and adding three prospects that immediately slot into the top 10 in their farm system.
With the trades already made and the status of the roster, it’s become clear that the team is far from contending in 2024 and has shifted more toward a rebuild of the farm as opposed to a quick turnaround to contend.
Despite the frustration from fans around the failure the team has experienced over the past few years, this is ultimately the right business decision. The farm system has already shifted from a bottom-tier one to a middle-tier one over the past week and a Cease deal could turn it into a top system in just a week’s worth of trades.
With a roster filled with holes and no path to contention next season, it’s better at this point to start planning for the 2025 season with the intention of using next year as a chance to develop. Many of the prospects in the system or the ones acquired this week will be ready to contribute in a big way by 2025 and they could add three or four more such players through a Cease deal.
The White Sox have appeared reluctant to rebuild but the situation in front of them justifies going all the way into selling right now in order to fully reset their timeline much more efficiently than they could do otherwise.
The future of the White Sox seemed murky just a month ago, but they have the chance to clearly establish their plan moving forward by finishing this deadline off by trading their ace. It may not feel good and I would certainly miss Cease in a White Sox uniform, but this gives the White Sox a real chance to compete in the future.