The rumor mill has been churning out new updates about Dylan Cease's status in the trade market since the beginning of the MLB offseason.
Some even suggested a deal could've been done before the Winter Meetings. Bob Nightengale told NBC Sports Chicago's Chuck Garfien in late November he believes there's a "90 percent chance" the Sox trade Cease.
From the White Sox perspective, they feel comfortable about Cease's market. They believe they hold the upper hand in any trade negotiations for the right-hander since they aren't steadfast on moving him.
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"We're in a position of leverage, because I don't think we have to trade Cease," White Sox assistant general manager Josh Barfield said at the Winter Meetings. "It's nice, you know. We have two years of control and he's a really, really good pitcher who definitely helps us next year. At the same time, we've got to be smart and we've got to listen to everything.
"If we make a move, if we don't, we're just going to be patient and wait for the right one."
Cease, 27, has spent the entirety of his five-year career in the major leagues with the White Sox. Originally drafted by the Chicago Cubs, they traded him and Eloy Jiménez to the South Side in exchange for Jose Quintana.
In 2019, Cease immediately became a starter in the White Sox starting rotation. He climbed to stupendous success in 2022, earning second place voting for the Cy Young award from a season he finished with a 2.20 ERA and a blistering 227 strikeouts.
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He came back down to Earth in 2023, finishing the year with a 4.58 ERA from 33 starts and 177 innings pitched. Still, his ceiling is firmly set as a top pitcher in the league. His slider and knuckle curveball are detrimental to opposing batters and his durability is admirable.
The White Sox have Cease under club control for two more seasons. Last season, they settled on a one-year deal worth $5.7 million in arbitration. This season, he's expected to yield somewhere around $8 million, according to Spotrac's estimates.
Along with the Atlanta Braves, who are looking to bring the hometown Cease back to the south, MLB insider Jon Morosi told Garfien in a separate interview the Cincinnati Reds, Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers are possible landing spots for Cease. He also said the San Francisco Giants could get involved if they fail to land Shohei Ohtani or Yoshinobu Yamamoto.
The favorite, in Morosi’s eyes? The Orioles.
“Their farm system is so good, and their need for pitching is so clear that I think that Dylan Cease to Baltimore is where I’m going to predict that winds up. It makes sense on paper for a number of reasons,” he said.
If Cease is, in fact, traded from the White Sox this season, it sounds like the front office is promising a winning return in exchange for the right-handed ace.