With rumors running rampant regarding what the Chicago Cubs plan to do this winter, they have been unable to strike gold or sign anybody of prominence to this juncture. Of course, everything is held up due to the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes, and the Cubs are in the thick of it. Still, they need starting pitching for 2024, regardless of whether they get Ohtani or not. As the Cubs continue to get connected to the trade market, one option becoming more and more plausible is trading for ace Dylan Cease.
Recently, the Chicago White Sox have mentioned perhaps slowing down talks for Cease until teams get into more of a bidding war for him. Essentially, once teams miss on Ohtani and Yamamoto, the Sox know they will wind up with much more of a haul than they otherwise would if they trade him immediately.
The Baltimore Orioles have been the favorite to land Cease via trade, but if the Cubs get desperate, they can certainly up on the anti on Baltimore. Of course, the Cubs being in on Tyler Glasnow may put a wrinkle in the Cease sweepstakes if Jed Hoyer decides he doesn't want to give up that much prospect currency. There are, however, red flags with cease that need to be addressed.
Given that Cease has two years of team control left before reaching free agency and costs less per year than Glasnow, the cost to rip him away from the Sox will be exorbitant. You're talking about multiple top prospects from your organization; in this case, Cease's overall numbers have not backed up his ace-level status.
Throughout his five-year career, Cease owns a 3.83 ERA. Certainly not bad, but far from elite. His best year came in 2022 when he was the runner-up for Cy Young with a 2.20 ERA, but he followed up what looked like a breakout campaign with a well-below-average 4.58 ERA this season. Granted, his FIP was 3.72, indicating he was the victim of some bad luck, which makes sense when you look at how bad the White Sox were defensively last season.
Still, even a 3.72 is not worth scraping your farm over. For whatever reason, Cease's name is synonymous with his excellent season in 2022, and I'm steering clear in this situation. For whatever reason, Cease's name is synonymous with his superb season in 2022; I'm steering clear in this scenario if I'm the Cubs' front office.