This has not been an especially active Winter Meetings week, but the Rangers and White Sox did swing a major trade on its first night. The deal saw Chicago acquire right-hander Lance Lynn from Texas in exchange for righty Dane Dunning and lefty Avery Weems.
It was an aggressive move by the White Sox, who just reached the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Lynn finished near the top of the American League in Cy Young voting in each of his two seasons with the Rangers, so he should help give the White Sox rotation one of the majors’ best top threes. They already had Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel, who joined Lynn among the AL’s most effective starters in 2020. Lynn will now reunite with new manager Tony La Russa, who was the Cardinals’ skipper when the hurler debuted in 2011.
While Lynn has long been a quality arm, another plus is his highly affordable salary for 2021. With $8MM coming his way next season, the 33-year-old won’t make much of a dent in Chicago’s payroll. The problem is that the White Sox did have to surrender a couple of promising younger pitchers to acquire him.
Dunning, a former first-round pick, made his big league debut last season after a rather impressive minor league tenure. The 25-year-old held his own in Chicago, where he logged a 3.97 ERA/3.99 FIP with 9.26 K/9, 3.44 BB/9 and a 45.1 percent groundball rate in seven starts and 34 innings. That’s a small sample size, but Dunning’s track record makes it easy for the Rangers to dream that he will be a key cog on their roster. He’s under control for six more seasons, so it’s possible Dunning will be in the Lone Star State for the long haul.
Weems does not seem to have Dunning’s potential, nor has he appeared in the majors yet, but he also has a chance to be a useful piece. The 2019 sixth-round pick from the University of Arizona shut down rookie ball hitters that year, when he recorded an outstanding 2.09 ERA with 11.0 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9 in 60 1/3 frames. Baseball America’s Josh Norris wrote after the Lynn trade that Weems’ future is probably as a reliever, but he “could move quickly to the upper levels.”
The White Sox are clearly banking on Lynn’s presence helping them contend for a World Series title in 2021, whereas the Rangers – who are in a rebuild – acquired two controllable players in letting him go. How do you think the two teams fared in the deal? (Poll links for app users: White Sox, Rangers)