Nov. 30: The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal suggests a very different scenario regarding Cease, writing that Getz & Co. prefer to wait to move him until after the top starters on the market have signed. Clubs with current interest (e.g. Cincinnati, Baltimore), aren’t likely to play for the top names in free agency anyhow and will thus remain in play even if the Sox take their time trading Cease. And, by waiting until the top of the free agent market thins out, the Sox could potentially attract more bidders in the form of those who miss out on the likes of Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Blake Snell, Jordan Montgomery, etc.
Nov. 29: The White Sox have discussed Dylan Cease trades with teams since the offseason got underway. It seems they’ve gained some amount of traction, as Jon Morosi of MLB.com tweets that talks have “intensified” this week. Morosi suggests the ChiSox may pull the trigger on a deal prior to the Winter Meetings, which begin Sunday evening.
USA Today’s Bob Nightengale has linked the Dodgers and Braves to the hard-throwing righty in recent weeks. There are surely plenty of other teams that have been in touch with first-year general manager Chris Getz. Morosi calls the Braves one of the “finalists” for Cease’s services. That implies the Sox have narrowed down the field of suitors, although there’s no clarity as to how many clubs are still in the running.
Cease has been a popular trade target going back to the deadline. The Sox elected not to move him over the summer. A few weeks after the deadline, owner Jerry Reinsdorf dismissed front office leaders Rick Hahn and Ken Williams. He bumped Getz from assistant GM to the top role not long thereafter. Getz has rather bluntly discussed the lack of depth on the MLB roster. He has made clear there aren’t any players who are categorically off the table in trade discussions.
While Luis Robert Jr. probably has the most appeal of anyone on the team, Cease is the more likely of their high-value targets to change uniforms. The Sox have their franchise center fielder signed to a contract with club options running through the 2027 season. Cease is under team control for two years. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects him for an $8.8MM salary in his second-to-last season of arbitration eligibility.
Cease, who turns 28 next month, is coming off a relative down season. His ERA jumped from 2.20 during his Cy Young runner-up campaign in 2022 to 4.58 this year. Cease lost a couple points off his strikeout rate but still fanned a quality 27.3% of opposing hitters while taking the ball for a full slate of 33 starts.
Despite the relative down season, he remains the clear best pitcher on the roster. While Getz has expressed a willingness to make significant changes, he hasn’t characterized the situation as a rebuild. It stands to reason they’d look for major league and/or upper minors talent in a Cease trade. They took a volume approach to their first major trade of the offseason, acquiring five players (four of whom are MLB-ready depth types) from the Braves for reliever Aaron Bummer two weeks ago.