Yoshinobu Yamamoto

How Yoshinobu Yamamoto's monster deal with Dodgers could help White Sox in trade talks

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It seems that one seismic, record-breaking contract during the offseason was not enough for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who went on to blow the baseball world away once more on Thursday night.

Merely 10 days after shocking the planet by signing Shohei Ohtani to a 10-year, $700 million contract that defers the majority of his salary, the Dodgers inked 25-year-old Japanese newcomer Yoshinobu Yamamoto to a 12-year, $325 million contract, the richest deal for a pitcher in the league's history.

Adding on a posting fee of nearly $51 million owed to the Orix Buffaloes, Yamamoto's former club in Japan, the Dodgers will commit over $375 million to the right-handed pitcher over the next dozen years.

The unprecedented level of spending by the Dodgers is expected to have ripple effects throughout the league on how teams manage the offseason, with Los Angeles' aggression potentially favoring the Chicago White Sox as the front office looks to retool the roster ahead of 2024.

A frequent subject of rumors earlier in the offseason, White Sox ace Dylan Cease is known to be on the radar of several teams across the league as one of the premier pitching options available in some capacity this offseason.

Cease, 28 next week, was a primary component of a trade alongside teammate Eloy Jiménez that sent José Quintana to the crosstown rival Chicago Cubs.

Despite a clear liability to walk hitters at a rate well above the league average, Cease has emerged as one of the game's premier strikeout pitchers in recent years. Despite a noticeable setback in many metrics in 2023, Cease wrapped up his third-straight season of 210 or more strikeouts.

His 2022 campaign saw him finish as the runner-up for the AL Cy Young Award with 227 strikeouts and a 2.20 ERA despite leading MLB in walks.

With elite strikeout production, ace potential, a younger age than most pitchers on the free agent market and two years of team control, Cease checks all of the boxes for an extremely attractive trade target.

Handling his first offseason at the helm for the White Sox's front office, Chris Getz openly stated that the roster had no untouchables while also opining that he preferred to wait Yamamoto's market out before taking talks on Cease more seriously.

With the Dodgers having shelled out record money for Yamamoto while also paying a steep price to both acquire and extend Tyler Glasnow, the price for pitchers on both the free agent and trade markets have undoubtedly increased.

Glasnow, who is two years older than Cease and had just one year remaining of team control, was traded to the Dodgers alongside Manuel Margot for starting pitcher Ryan Pepiot and outfielder Jonny DeLuca.

Glasnow later signed a five-year extension with the Dodgers worth over $136.5 million.

The historic aggressiveness shown by the Dodgers in the early stages of this offseason can help Getz secure perhaps a loftier return for Cease than if he were traded last month.

With the White Sox finishing at or near the bottom of the league in several key offensive and defensive metrics in their 101-loss 2023 campaign, it's clear that high-impact trades that can address multiple organizational needs at once can help the South Siders return to relevance in a weak division at a quicker pace.

Though it isn't a complete guarantee that Cease will be moved by the White Sox, the demand for starting pitchers has only increased in a market that has already seen quality options such as Sonny Gray, Eduardo Rodriguez, Jack Flaherty, Kenta Maeda and Aaron Nola come off the table, teams in need will be more driven to make a move.

While reigning Cy Young Award-winner Blake Snell remains on the free agent market alongside other options like Jordan Montgomery and Shota Imanaga, a good chunk of the high-impact free agent pitchers have already signed contracts.

This bodes well not only for the White Sox, who now can likely demand a higher price for Cease, but also the Cleveland Guardians, who have been rumored to be engaging with other clubs on former Cy Young Award-winner Shane Bieber.

Though Yamamoto's signing with the Dodgers comes with no guarantees for the league at large, it is clear that the market for starting pitchers has perhaps moved at a quicker rate than many have realized, potentially putting a higher price tag on the remaining options.

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