There hasn’t been much on the Dylan Cease front since early December, when reports suggested that the White Sox were going to wait until the free agent pitching market had become a bit clearer before again weighing offers for the right-hander. The Reds were known to be one of the clubs interested in Cease, though 670 The Score’s Bruce Levine reported that the Sox had asked for a four-player trade package — pitching prospects Rhett Lowder and Chase Petty, as well as two position-player prospects.
Jason Williams of the Cincinnati Enquirer sheds some more light on Chicago’s demands, writing that the White Sox wanted Lowder, Edwin Arroyo, Connor Phillips, “and at least one more prospect.” This could mean that the Sox wanted a five-player return, with Petty and an unknown position player comprising the other two names involved. MLB Pipeline ranks Lowder, Arroyo, and Phillips within the top 68 prospects in all of baseball, while Lowder (45th) and Phillips (86th) also ranked within Baseball America’s last top 100 ranking from September.
New White Sox GM Chris Getz has been open about the fact that he is willing to discuss any player on his team’s roster in trade negotiations, though some obviously come at a much higher price tag than others. Luis Robert Jr. may be the only player close to truly untouchable, and Cease might not be far off, though the two have differing levels of team control. Robert’s contract contains two club options that control his services through the 2027 season, while Cease has only two more years of arbitration eligibility remaining before he can hit free agency in the 2025-26 offseason.
Still, two years of a frontline pitcher like Cease is still quite an asset — either for a White Sox team trying to get on track after a disastrous season, or as a trade chip the Sox can use to reload the roster for both now and the future. The Reds are a natural trade partner on paper, given how Cincinnati is in sore need of pitching help and is also deep in position-player prospects. Cincinnati was known to have interest in Chicago’s pitching even prior to the All-Star break, so it is safe to assume Cease has been on the Reds’ radar for a while, at least in some fashion.
Because the White Sox are known to be targeting pitching, however, the Sox and Reds might not quite line up as smoothly on a Cease trade as it might seem. Obviously any team would be hesitant about moving three of its top-rated pitching prospects, and in particular, the Reds would be wary about cleaning out their pitching assets when they have so much of an surplus in another area (the infield) in their farm system. Speculatively speaking, the Reds might be more willing to consider a package of Arroyo, another position player, and one pitcher for Cease, yet it isn’t surprising why Cincinnati would balk at moving at least two of Phillips, Lowder, and Petty on top of what is already a substantial return of infield talent.
There isn’t really any harm in aiming high, of course, as Getz has plenty of offseason left to continue to explore other potential trade packages involving Cease. The fact that the Dodgers have already nabbed two of the top free agent (Yoshinobu Yamamoto) and trade (Tyler Glasnow) targets on the market has left a lot of other teams still in sore need of rotation help, so it certainly seems possible that Cease might be wearing another uniform by Opening Day.
It is also too early to rule the Reds out of any further Cease talks, even if that rumored four-for-one or five-for-one seems like a bridge too far. Cincinnati has been aggressive in adding to its rotation and bullpen by signing Nick Martinez and Emilio Pagan, and bolstered its infield picture even further by signing Jeimer Candelario. The addition of Candelario seemingly makes it more likely that the Reds could move an infielder in some manner of trade, whether for Cease or another pitcher.