With Chris Getz moving Aaron Bummer to Atlanta late last week, one thing seems abundantly clear: the White Sox won’t be entering 2024 with an internal expectation to compete. With Getz stating that he “doesn’t like this team,” and his unwillingness to commit to keeping anyone outside of Luis Robert Jr, it makes additional sense to believe that Dylan Cease will not be with the White Sox on Opening Day 2024.
If this is indeed the case, the White Sox will obviously be looking for the best deal for their best trade chip. Just one season removed from a Top 2 Cy Young finish and two seasons of control remaining, Cease stands to be one of – if not the most – valuable pitcher on the trade market this offseason.
There has been a lot of noise already this offseason, so let’s dive into 10 organizations that would seemingly be interested in acquiring Cease – as well as what the White Sox might receive in return.
Before we even begin, it makes sense to really identify what a realistic return for Cease would look like. Entering his age-28 season with two full seasons of control remaining, Cease and his 3.54 ERA/3.40 FIP from 2021-2023 certainly come to the table with a lot of trade value, despite a rocky 2023 season. The stuff itself didn’t change dramatically in 2023, hinting that the best days for Cease are still in there for the team that believes they are best positioned to unlock it again.
To validate this, here are some of the best comparison trades for Cease, given his age, ability, and contract status, dating back to 2021:
- July 2021: Minnesota Twins trade RHP Jose Berrios to the Toronto Blue Jays
- Status: 27 years old with 1.5 seasons of control remaining; 3.66 ERA/3.72 FIP from 2019-2021
- Return: 3B Austin Martin (BA’s #19 MLB Prospect, #1 Blue Jays Prospect) and Simeon Woods-Richardson (#69 MLB Prospect, #4 Blue Jays Prospect)
- July 2022: Cincinnati Reds trade RHP Luis Castillo to the Seattle Mariners
- Status: 29 years old with 1.5 seasons of control remaining; 3.49 ERA/3.31 FIP from 2020-2022
- Return: SS Noelvi Marte (Baseball America’s #18 MLB Prospect, #3 Mariners Prospect), LHP Levi Stoudt (#8 Mariners Prospect), SS Edwin Arroyo (#15 Mariners Prospect), and RHP Andrew Moore
- August 2022: Oakland Athletics trade RHP Frankie Montas to the New York Yankees
- Status: 29 years old with 1.5 seasons of control remaining; 3.93 ERA/3.72 FIP from 2020-2022
- Return: RHP Luis Media (#9 Yankees Prospect), LHP Ken Waldichuk (BA’s #10 Yankees Prospect), LHP JP Sears (#26 Yankees Prospect), and INF Cooper Bowman
- NOTE: RHRP Lou Trivino was also included in this trade
- July 2022: Cincinnati Reds trade RHP Tyler Mahle to the Minnesota Twins
- Status: 27 years old with 1.5 seasons of control remaining; 3.95 ERA/3.84 FIP from 2020-2022
- Return: LHP Steven Hajjar (#13 Twins Prospect), INF Spencer Steer (BA’s #15 Twins Prospect), and INF Christian Encarnacion-Strand
- January 2023: Miami Marlins trade RHP Pablo Lopez to the Minnesota Twins
- Status: 27 years old with 2 seasons of control remaining; 3.52 ERA/3.48 FIP from 2020-2022
- Return: INF Luis Arraez, SS Jose Salas (#4 Marlins Prospect), and OF Byron Chourio
- July 2023: Cleveland Guardians trade RHP Aaron Civale to the Tampa Bay Rays
- Status: 28 years old with 2.5 seasons of control remaining; 4.01 ERA/4.11 FIP from 2021-2023
- Return: 1B Kyle Manzardo (BA’s #58 MLB Prospect, #5 Rays Prospect)
You’ll notice that many of these trades took place at the Trade Deadline of their respective season. In terms of talent/ability, the Berrios, Lopez, and Castillo trades are closest to the level the White Sox will hope to match – especially given that the White Sox will give Cease’s proposed next team an extra half season. Thus, the White Sox should be looking to target a top-20 or top-30 prospect, another organizational top-10 prospect likely outside of the league’s top 100 list, and then one or two additional players of interest that may never have that great of an impact, but still have intriguing skill sets. So, let’s just say two organization top-10 prospects and at least one other organization top-25 prospect as a starting point – which is similar to what Jim Bowden of The Athletic suggested as a viable return.
A final note before reviewing the trades: some of these trades may be more of a “first offer” type deal for the White Sox – meaning in an ideal world, the return would be as listed. Because that’s not how the world works, there is a section of “other players of interest” for each team that would be worth targeting in an effort to create a final package.
All that being said, here are some potential destinations for Dylan Cease this offseason – in no particular order.
St. Louis Cardinals
After years of employing a pitch-to-contact strategy with their pitching staff, the Cardinals have publicly come out recently and essentially admitted that this strategy is not viable in the modern game. As a result, President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak is not only faced with filling three starting pitching spots but also filling three spots that help the team compete in the modern game. As such, they’ve been connected to some of the top free agent names, though Mozeliak has also stated the team’s openness to the trade route: “We do have some position-player talent and depth there. So, we also do want to explore the trade market just in case we aren’t successful on the [free-agent market].”
Chicago White Sox Receive: 2B Brendan Donovan, RHP Tink Hence (BA’s #26 MLB Prospect, #4 Cardinals Prospect), and RHP Zack Showalter (#14 Cardinals Prospect)
In this case, the inclusion of a major league talent with four seasons of control means a little less of the backend talent being included in the package. In this move, the White Sox get a second baseman for the future in Donovan who’s shown strong plate discipline as one of the main two pieces. His left-handed bat would play well in Guaranteed Rate Field, and while his defense at second base is average at best, his above-average on-base skills and plate discipline (83rd percentile chase rate)make up for that deficiency in his game.
The other main piece of this deal is Tink Hence, a prospect who’s been listed as high as a top-20 prospect in baseball recently. His fastball ranges from 95-97 mph, and while he dominated High-A this season, he struggled in Double-A as a 20-year-old. That being said, he has #2 starter upside and would be a great second piece in this trade. Finally, Showalter boasts a live arm that saw him post a 28% strikeout rate in Low-A after being drafted in the 11th round in 2022 by the Orioles. He’s a name to dream on with the loud stuff to match.
Other Players of Interest: SS Masyn Winn, UTIL Tommy Edman, UTIL Nolan Gorman, RHP Tekoah Roby, 2B Thomas Saggese
The Cardinals match up with the White Sox well for a trade like this because of their complementary strengths. St. Louis possesses an abundance of infield talent, while the White Sox possess a bit of talent on the mound in the minor leagues. Outside of Colson Montgomery, there are a lot of positional question marks in the future for the White Sox, so locking down Donovan at second would allow them to set their sights elsewhere for other upgrades.
The White Sox could also look to go prospect-heavy rather than using years of service time on a team that isn’t going to compete – which is where some of the other players of interest become a bit more intriguing. In that case, headlining the deal with Tekoah Roby and Tink Hence could go a long way.
Overall, it’s an interesting start from a team that typically doesn’t like to spend at the top of the pitching market and has the infield depth to pull this off.
Could Cease be shipped to the other side of town to the team that originally drafted him?
With Marcus Stroman opting out of his contract and Kyle Hendricks becoming less of a front-of-the-rotation option, the Cubs find themselves looking to add a power arm to their rotation this offseason. The team is obviously committed to winning now, and with Justin Steele, Jordan Wicks, Jameson Taillon, and Hayden Wesneski vying for rotation spots, locking down a top-of-the-rotation arm would go a long way for this team.
Chicago White Sox Receive: RHP Cade Horton (BA’s #17 MLB Prospect, #2 Cubs Prospect), OF Owen Caissie (#93 MLB Prospect, #4 Cubs Prospect), LHP Luke Little (#19 Cubs Prospect), and OF Brennan Davis (#23 Cubs Prospect)
This trade is a bit more focused on the future, though Horton and Caissie could both be quick risers. Horton made leaps late in the draft process in 2022 and has continued to make those leaps in professional ball. He made his debut in Double-A last season, posting a 1.33 ERA in 27 innings. The concern with him remains his ability to handle a starter’s workload, as he never achieved that in college and only threw 88.1 innings in 2023.
Caissie is a 20-year-old left-handed outfielder who has struggled with strikeouts in his minor league career, though posted walk rates (14.4%) and home run totals (22) in Double-A that continue to make him an appealing prospect. He also posts some of the highest exit velocities in the minors. In short, he’s a strong dude.
Little made his debut in the majors last season with his 97 mph fastball and 40% strikeout rate in 6.2 innings, though his 14% walk rate in Triple-A and 18% walk rate in Double-A in 2023 cast doubts upon his long-term effectiveness, as well as whether or not the Cubs would want to include him in their bullpen with the playoffs in sight. Finally, a few years ago, Brennen Davis appearing as a throw-in on this list would’ve been ludicrous. But, injuries and ineffectiveness have made him a prime “change of scenery” candidate, because his best days of 2019-2021 aren’t all that far behind him.
Other Players of Interest: SS Matt Shaw, LHP Jackson Ferris, RHP Hayden Wesneski, UTIL Christopher Morel
With Horton serving as the strongest “sure bet” among this group, this is certainly a high-risk, high-reward package for the White Sox. Because of the “high-reward” part, I could see the Cubs either wanting someone additional from the White Sox (perhaps Gregory Santos) or wanting to take Caissie or Little out of the picture. Or, if Horton happens to be off the table, I’d check on the availability of either Morel or possibly Ferris – though neither serves as a true “headliner,” so some additional talent would have to come back.
But that’s where the “high-risk” comes into play. Little could turn himself into a lefty power arm at the back of the bullpen. Davis could figure it out, stay healthy, and become a fourth outfielder at least. Caissie could reign in his strikeout rate and be the right fielder of the future for the White Sox. Or, each of those three could easily succumb to their flaws. Welcome to the fun of trading for prospects.
With the Cubs eyeing Shohei Ohtani or bringing back Cody Bellinger, it’s clear they’re willing to spend – but those dollars might be going to the position side of the team (remember, Ohtani won’t be able to pitch again until 2025). Bringing back their former future ace might be the best cost-controlled way to help address all the items on their wish list.
Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox are another team that has publicly stated their desire to go out and get a “front-of-the-rotation” type pitcher this offseason, and with a new GM in town, Craig Breslow could be looking to make a splash – and could use a bunch of prospects that he is not connected to all that closely in order to do so.
Chicago White Sox Receive: OF Roman Anthony (BA’s #19 MLB Prospect, #2 Red Sox Prospect) and 2B Nick Yorke
This trade was one of the hardest ones for me to put together. There’s a clear gap in talent for the Red Sox between their top two prospects – Marcelo Mayer and Anthony – and the rest of their system, which is good but not “headliner” talent. The Red Sox also aren’t necessarily in a position where they have a ton of young talent that will be carrying the next win-now core, so they might be a bit hesitant to trade away their highest-level prospects. So, to reconcile everything, I made this trade a bit more similar to the Berrios trade – two high-level players, and that’s it.
Other Players of Interest: SS Marcelo Mayer, OF Miguel Bleis, OF Jarren Duran, C Kyle Teel, RHP Tanner Houck
Anthony is definitely a risk, given his BABIP-carried 2023 success, though he has always had strong bat-to-ball skills that will help his rise through the minor leagues while also displaying a pretty strong eye (at least a 16.3% walk rate at every level in 2023). He’s strong enough defensively to handle center field and could quickly rise through the system. While he ranked as #19 at mid-season, he could easily be considered a top-10 talent in baseball by Spring Training – which is why this isn’t the most prospect-heavy deal on this list.
Yorke provides a bit of a safety net in terms of a floor for this deal while also providing a nice ceiling for a second baseman. He committed just six errors in over 800 innings at second base last season despite previous defensive concerns, and his 10.1% walk rate and 13 homers in Double-A last season give off a strong second base profile. He could see time in the majors in 2024 if all goes well at the start of the season.
If a deal were to be preferred surrounding Mayer, I wouldn’t hate that either. If Mayer and Anthony were both off-limits, then I’d try something like Houck, Teel, and Yorke to see if we could get close to a deal. It just depends on what both sides will prioritize – especially if the White Sox decide they are looking for closer to major-league-ready talent.
Overall, because the Red Sox don’t have the most depth in their farm system, they’re likely going to need to part with one of their top talents if they want cost-controlled pitching – especially because their farm system is thin in the pitching department. The question will be which player they choose to part with – or, even if they do. It will be a first sign of how Breslow values the system he inherited.
Outside of the St. Louis Cardinals, if there is a “perfect match” for the White Sox in a trade for Dylan Cease, it’s the Baltimore Orioles. The reason is the same as it was for the Cardinals: their horde of position player prospects makes them the perfect team to turn to if they’re willing to move a few of the names. They weren’t willing to do so at the trade deadline, but perhaps seeing their team in the playoffs provides the needed incentive to complete the roster.
Chicago White Sox Receive: 3B Coby Mayo (BA’s #23 MLB Prospect, #3 Orioles Prospect), SS Joey Ortiz (#63 MLB Prospect, #7 Orioles Prospect), OF Dylan Beavers (#21 Orioles Prospect)
This is similar to the Berrios deal above in that it focuses heavily on quality, with the White Sox getting a third prospect out of the deal due to the additional 20 or so starts the Orioles will get with Cease. Mayo isn’t likely to be a third baseman moving forward, but his bat is legitimate and would hopefully thrive in the middle of the White Sox’s lineup for years to come. His walk rates (>15% in Double-A and Triple-A in 2023) and home run power (29 in 2023 across Double-A and Triple-A) would complement the White Sox nicely.
Ortiz may have the best glove of any of the infielders in Baltimore, but he is likely locked out of the infield for the future and is a prime trade candidate this offseason. Beavers is a high-ceiling third piece in this deal that still needs to develop some power at the professional level. He does display an advanced eye at the plate with greater than 12% walk rates at every stop in his career thus far.
Other Players of Interest: OF Colton Cowser, LHP DL Hall, C Samuel Basallo, OF Heston Kjerstad, 2B Connor Norby
As evidenced above, the Orioles have no shortage of intriguing position players that the White Sox could look to mix and match with as they create the ideal return package for Cease. While the precedent is there to include prospects as highly-ranked as Cowser or Mayo, going with a quantity package with players such as Basallo, Kjerstad, Norby, or Ortiz could arguably be just as appealing for the White Sox moving forward.
The good news for the White Sox in any potential deal with the Orioles is that they will be getting major-league-ready talent. Because of this, Baltimore might be one of their preferred trade destinations.
With the Phillies bringing back Aaron Nola on Sunday, it’s a little less likely that they turn to the trade market to add more to their starting rotation. That being said, Dave Dombrowski has never been one to shy away from trading prospects, and while Nola/Wheeler has been a strong 1/2 in the rotation, Cease sitting as their third starter would undoubtedly make theirs one of the best rotations in baseball.
Chicago White Sox Receive: RHP Andrew Painter (BA’s #25 MLB Prospect, #1 Phillies Prospect), 3B Aidan Miller (#4 Phillies Prospect), and OF Johan Rojas
In this trade, the White Sox would get a potential replacement for Dylan Cease in Painter, who was close to making his major league debut before undergoing surgery last season. He tackled Low-A, High-A, and Double-A as a 19-year-old in 2022 without much issue, seeing his walk rates decrease as he rose through the system while never posting an ERA higher than 2.54. He’s an impressive pitcher and profiles as a true front-of-the-rotation pitcher.
Miller is a 2023 first-round draft pick of the Phillies out of high school who was considered one of the best pure hitters in the class with an advanced understanding of the strike zone. He will still need quite a bit of seasoning before he makes his debut, though his profile suggests he could be a middle-of-the-order hitter in time to come.
Because this return is quite top-heavy, the third piece here is Johan Rojas, a player with plus speed and defense in center field who may be able to hit just enough to crack a starting lineup – and would at worst be a fourth outfielder. He made his debut with the Phillies this season, skipping Triple-A entirely after some swing changes unlocked a better version of him. But, the ceiling here is likely still limited.
Other Players of Interest: OF Justin Crawford, RHP Mick Abel, SS Bryan Rincon, RHP Griff McGarry
Painter is incredibly valuable, and I understand why Phillies fans would be hesitant to include him in a trade. However, he is still recovering from Tommy John Surgery and won’t make much of an impact this season and will be limited upon his return – making him less valuable to the win-now Phillies than he would be to the rebuilding White Sox. This trade also allows the Phillies to keep their healthy close to major-league-ready arm in Mick Abel and their top-hitting prospect in Justin Crawford – at least one of whom (or potentially both) would have to be included in a deal that doesn’t involve Painter.
Here’s the thing with a Phillies trade: this may be fair (or close) in theory, but right after signing Nola, they probably feel less of an incentive to move players when they could simply spend money to sign them. But, continuing down this theoretical path: at the very least, a trade that includes Abel and Miller would be a great starting point. The final few pieces would have to be filled in, but that would be a great place to land if the Phillies refuse to move Painter or even Justin Crawford (whom I’m not the biggest fan of personally in terms of player profile).
Los Angeles Dodgers
According to Bob Nightengale, the Dodgers are in trade talks with the White Sox regarding Dylan Cease. This news is out in the media for a reason, meaning it’s either getting serious with the Dodgers or the White Sox are trying to get other teams to up their offers. Using the Dodgers as leverage is a great play because even if it doesn’t work, Los Angeles has plenty of players who could make a move like this rather interesting.
Chicago White Sox Receive: RHP Emmet Sheehan, OF Andy Pages (BA’s #4 Dodgers Prospect), RHP Nick Frasso (#6 Dodgers Prospect), C Thayron Liranzo (#17 Dodgers Prospect)
This trade doesn’t have the same top 100 prospect value as other deals, so instead, this deal prioritizes some major-league-ready pitching talent. Sheehan made his major league debut in 2023, though is a former top-100 prospect in his own right. The White Sox could bring him into the rotation immediately or instead allow him to get a bit more seasoning in Triple-A. He has struggled with walks in the past, though has posted incredible strikeout rates throughout most of his minor league career.
Pages underwent labrum surgery in the middle of last season, though should be ready to go by Spring Training. He has light-tower power – similar to Eloy Jimenez – but with a lot more plate discipline and enough defense to stick in a corner OF spot. Frasso has been clocked on the radar gun as high as 100 mph, though the 24-year-old has struggled with command at times. Finally, as a 19-year-old, Liranzo hit 24 home runs in Low-A while walking 16.7% of the time. He could be a true impact bat in time to come.
Other Players of Interest: C Dalton Rushing, RHP Ryan Pepiot, RHP Landon Knack, RHP Kyle Hurt, 2B Jorbit Vivas
Typically, I’m not a proponent of trading with a team not too long after you previously traded with them. However, despite not including any current top 100 prospects, I actually think this would be one of my favorite trades – though, in hindsight, it may be too rich of a return relative to expectations. Perhaps adding Gregory Santos here would be able to push this deal through?
Should the Dodgers not be willing to move from their major-league talent, a package with Rushing, Pages/Frasso, and Liranzo would still be intriguing. The White Sox could look to add two pitchers instead of two catchers, opting for a package with Frasso, Knack, or Pepiot as the main pieces. The possibilities are pretty endless with the Dodgers.
If it’s not abundantly clear, the Dodgers have the sort of talent depth that would make a trade of Cease still feel very advantageous long-term for the White Sox.
San Diego Padres
The Padres are in a difficult position, especially with the passing of their owner Peter Seidler. The team is in enough of a cost-prohibitive position that they had to take out a loan, but also have the on-field talent that would support the idea that they are in win-now mode. Should they actually trade Juan Soto to provide some salary relief, a cheap third piece to the rotation with Joe Musgrove and Yu Darvish certainly wouldn’t be something they were opposed to – especially given that their farm system can still support it.
Chicago White Sox Receive: LHP Robby Snelling (BA’s #37 MLB Prospect, #4 Padres Prospect), RHP Jairo Iriarte (#5 Padres Prospect), OF Samuel Zavala (#6 Padres Prospect), and RHP Victor Lizarraga (#10 Padres Prospect)
Snelling is the reigning Padres’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year, and I think he likely ranks much higher to start next season among the top 100 prospects because of it. The lefty pitched at three levels last season, never posting an ERA higher than 2.34. Despite some late-season struggles with command, Snelling had pretty strong command all season too while striking out nearly 30% of batters he faced. After finishing the season in Double-A, he could definitely be a quick riser through the system.
Iriarte stands at 6-foot-5 with a fastball upwards of 95-97 that he pairs with a strong changeup. He struggled a bit with command last season but also found himself in Double-A by year’s end. Zavala was regarded as one of the best pure hitters in the 2021 international signing class and demolished Low-A as an 18-year-old last year. He struggled in a brief appearance in High-A, but the left-handed outfielder has incredible potential. Finally, Lizarraga was Mexico’s best pitching prospect in the 2021 international class but will need to see a jump in velocity as he gets older. Much like Iriarte, his changeup is his best-offspeed pitch.
Other Players of Interest: SS Jackson Merrill, RHP Dylan Lesko, OF Trent Grisham, OF Dillon Head
This is certainly a young list of prospects that still could be major-league-ready relatively soon. However, there is a lot of risk in the package as a whole, with Snelling providing the biggest “sure bet” of the group. I preferred the upside of Snelling over Merrill when putting together this list, but certainly wouldn’t be opposed to a package that started with Merrill instead – especially given there is no immediate future for him in San Diego with Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr, and Xander Bogaerts under contract long-term. In that case, if the White Sox could get Merrill and perhaps Zavala, they should be very pleased with their return – but I personally would be targeting Snelling, Zavala, and at least one other piece.
Overall, the Padres have another opportunity to trade from their constantly vast pool of minor league talent to acquire starting pitching on the cheap. Plus, should they trade Soto, the club would have a chance to re-stock the farm again after making a trade like this.
After Aaron Nola re-signed with the Phillies on Sunday, news came out that the Braves made a push to acquire Nola’s services. While they will obviously be looking to pivot to other free-agent starters as well, should they happen to continue to strike out, could it make more sense for them to upgrade their rotation via the trade market? Cease also grew up in the Atlanta area, so there is a connection there.
Chicago White Sox Receive: RHP AJ Smith-Shawver (BA’s #39 MLB Prospect, #1 Braves Prospect), RHP Hurston Waldrep (#95 MLB Prospect, #2 Braves Prospect), and RHP Owen Murphy (#4 Braves Prospect)
Well, let’s load up on some pitching. According to Baseball America, the Braves’ top five prospects are all pitchers, which speaks to the overall strength of their development program. With Smith-Shawver and Waldrep, the White Sox would be getting two relatively advanced pitchers with front-of-the-rotation upside.
Waldrep may have been drafted this season, but he already saw time in Triple-A with the Braves, who were advancing him rapidly through the system. Smith-Shawver also flew through the system for the Braves in 2023, pitching at four different levels – including 25 innings in the majors. The speed with which these two moved is a good and a bad thing, and with the White Sox, the hope would be these two could slow things down a bit and finalize their development as high-impact arms. Finally, Murphy was a first-round draft pick in 2022, though has been a bit slower in his development. He posted a 4.71 ERA/3.74 FIP in Low-A this season as a 19-year-old.
Other Players of Interest: INF Vaughn Grissom, RHP Bryce Elder, RHP J.R. Ritchie, C Drake Baldwin
With how good the Braves are at the major league level, they are not currently in a position where they have a deep farm system. Smith-Shawver and Waldrep represent the best of what they have, so the question becomes whether or not the Braves are going to be willing to give up what’s remaining of a pretty depleted farm system in order to push the team over the edge. Should they not be fully willing to commit to this package, adding players such as Vaughn Grissom – who really doesn’t have a spot in Atlanta – or left-handed hitting catcher Drake Baldwin could help push this package across the finish line.
Overall, though, I’m not convinced Atlanta would prefer to do this rather than simply spend more money – especially since their Nola pursuit proves they are willing to.
The Cincinnati Reds started making some noise last season, and at the deadline, they were among the teams rumored to be shopping for pitching additions. In what has become a wide-open NL Central, Cincinnati will likely be looking to supplement the talent they have at the major league level. In particular, they could use a true top-tier starter in front of Hunter Greene, Andrew Abbott, and Nick Lodolo at a price tag that they feel is reasonable.
Chicago White Sox Receive: RHP Rhett Lowder (BA’s #45 MLB Prospect, #2 Reds Prospect), RHP Chase Petty (#5 Reds Prospect), 3B Cam Collier (#10 Reds Prospect), and OF Hector Rodriguez (#13 Reds Prospect)
Lowder was the team’s first-round draft pick in 2023, and while he hasn’t yet thrown any professional innings, he is advanced enough coming out of Wake Forest to be a fast-moving starter. Had Paul Skenes not been as good as he was at LSU in 2023, Lowder likely would’ve been considered to have the best season among college starters. Petty battled some injuries during the 2023 season, only throwing 68 innings total on the season. When he was healthy, however, he was posting a 1.95 ERA and striking out 25% of hitters in High-A as a 20-year-old. He could conceivably be on top 100 prospect lists by the beginning of 2024.
Collier had a tough season that saw him lose some of the helium from the days of being a first-round draft pick in 2022, but at just 18 years old, he is still a long way away from having a decision made on his future. Finally, Rodriguez doesn’t walk much and may not be big enough to survive at the upper levels of the minors, but found a way to hit 16 homers in 444 plate appearances in Low-A as a 19-year-old. If all goes well, he could be a quick riser.
Other Players of Interest: 3B Noelvi Marte, RHP Connor Phillips, SS Edwin Arroyo, 2B Carlos Jorge
I could understand if the Reds aren’t willing to trade the player they *just* drafted in Lowder. As such, a trade surrounding Noelvi Marte – who is blocked currently in a loaded Reds’ infield – could make more sense as a headliner. Truthfully, switching Marte in for Lowder and perhaps dropping Collier may work better for a White Sox’ team looking for their third baseman of the future, with Marte considered higher “value” because of his timeline for making major league contributions.
The Reds are among those teams – along with the Orioles and the final team on this list – that tend to hold their prospects a little closer than others. At a certain point, however, you have to either be willing to spend or willing to trade your prospects – and based on Cincinnati’s history, it is more likely to be the latter.
The Diamondbacks did not add a starting pitcher at this year’s deadline, assumedly believing their team was still at least a year away from the World Series. Fast forward a few months, and they found themselves needing a bullpen game in the World Series due to a lack of starting pitching. As a team that has only handed out one nine-figure contract in its history, the Diamondbacks could easily turn to Cease’s more palatable $8.3M projection for 2024 to help fill out their rotation behind Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly.
Chicago White Sox Receive: OF Alek Thomas, OF Druw Jones (BA’s #78 MLB Prospect, #3 Diamondbacks Prospect), and LHP Yu-Min Lin (BA’s #14 Diamondbacks Prospect)
I don’t think the Diamondbacks are going to be too willing to trade from what they consider to be their core, though I do believe they would be willing to move Thomas. Thomas had a great postseason, and usually, my rule is never to trade for someone just because of a good postseason (way too small of a sample size). However, with Lawlar entering the equation, it allows the team to make him the future shortstop, move Gerardo Perdomo to either 2B or 3B, and move Ketel Marte back into the outfield – which would solve the issue of having traded Thomas, who wasn’t even a full-time starter for the Diamondbacks for much of the season. Thomas could serve as the White Sox’ right fielder of the future, and do so rather uncontested for a while.
Elsewhere in this deal, Druw Jones is very much a work in progress and is quite some time away from the majors. But, the pedigree is there, and he’s the sort of player where you are willing to bet on the upside. Finally, Lin has made a push to become the team’s top pitching prospect, advancing to Double-A as a 19-year-old. His fastball is only around 89-91 mph, so some work absolutely could be done there. But, his curveball and slider average more than 3000 RPMs, so there is plenty to work with there. If he could add some more velo, he could be a steal as the third piece in this trade.
Other Players of Interest: SS Jordan Lawlar, RHP Brandon Pfaadt, SS Tommy Troy
Should Lawlar not be off-limits, I obviously believe the trade should begin with him. However, it’s rather unlikely the Diamondbacks move him as I mentioned above – but even so, the Diamondbacks could put together a competitive package for Cease. Is it the best one that any team can put together? Not likely. However, there are enough pieces here to keep conversations interesting – and you never know who could become available if negotiations last long enough.
Other Teams Considered: New York Mets, San Francisco Giants, Houston Astros, Texas Rangers
In looking at the above trade destinations, there are obviously those in terms of potential return that I like better than others. There are also those that I deem more “realistic” than others in my mind. The Dodgers, Reds, and Orioles can easily put together the most competitive packages, though I do think teams like the Padres and Cardinals could be really good matches. Overall, whether or not the “formal” package I put together is realistic, I believe the players named in the proposed trade plus those named as “other players of interest” would cover most of the pieces that the White Sox would likely be interested in as headliners and additional pieces in a Cease deal.
It’s really hard to figure out what Dylan Cease’s trade value is like. With each starting pitcher that comes off the market, there are teams that strike out – raising Cease’s value. At the same time, his struggles in 2023 will consistently be used to keep the price lower than it could be. That leaves the White Sox with a decision: do they trade Cease now, knowing what value he has? Or should they wait until the trade deadline and hope he recovers some additional value with a return to something closer to his 2022 form? I think I would lean the former – and it appears the White Sox do as well.
With Nola coming off the board, things are likely going to start taking shape on the free-agent market sooner rather than later. Once some of the big names fall off the board, look for Dylan Cease to move not too long after.
Let me know which trade packages/teams you prefer the most!
Follow us @SoxOn35th for more throughout the offseason!
Featured Image: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports