10:24AM: The White Sox are looking into the starting pitching market, with MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reporting that Rangers ace Lance Lynn is under consideration, while MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that Diamondbacks left-hander Robbie Ray has also been discussed (both links to Twitter).
As MLBTR’s Steve Adams and Connor Byrne recently put it, “Lynn is arguably the most coveted arm on the trade market.” The right-hander has a 1.59 ERA, 9.9 K/9, and 3.57 K/BB rate through 45 1/3 innings this season, and while advanced metrics hint at some inevitable ERA regression, those same numbers suggest Lynn is pitching at roughly the same level as he did in 2019, when he finished fifth in AL Cy Young Award voting.
Beyond only his performance this season, Lynn is under contract for an $8MM salary in 2021, which stands as a more than reasonable price if he keeps pitching this well. As big a trade chip as Lynn is, however, his pluses also make him a valuable asset to the Rangers, who are at least open to hearing offers for Lynn but maybe not likely to actually move him unless another team steps up with a big trade package.
It’s probably safe to assume that Ray is much more available, though the southpaw’s value has dramatically dropped off in the wake of a brutal start to the 2020 season. Control issues and the home run ball have plagued Ray, who has a 7.84 ERA and 31 walks over 31 innings, despite a 12.5 K/9. Despite Ray’s struggles, he has drawn interest from the Astros and other teams, with some clubs reportedly interested in deploying Ray as a reliever.
The White Sox have gotten very good results from Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease, and Dallas Keuchel this season, but much less from a fourth/fifth starter mix that includes Gio Gonzalez, Reynaldo Lopez, and the injured Carlos Rodon. The league-wide perception, as least according to rival executives speaking with MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, is that the Pale Hose will land a starter prior to Monday’s trade deadline. The bullpen has been a strength overall, though it is short on left-handed pitchers (such as Ray) since Aaron Bummer is still on the injured list.
Acquiring Ray would be a pure short-term rental move, since he is a free agent after the year. Prying Lynn away from Texas would cost the Sox quite a bit more in prospect capital, though it’s worth noting that the White Sox and Rangers have been rather frequent trading partners since Rick Hahn became Chicago’s general manager. The White Sox are firmly in the playoff race this year and plan to be contenders for the foreseeable future, so Lynn is the type of pitcher that would also boost their chances of winning in 2021.