Despite the New York Yankees losing out on Corbin Burnes, who is headed to the Baltimore Orioles in a blockbuster deal, general manager Brian Cashman is still intrigued by the pitching market.
Exploring Further Options
The Yankees can’t be ruled out from making another move to reinforce their starting rotation, especially based on the hope that Carlos Rodon and Nestor Cortes bounce back from an injury-riddled 2023 season. It is possible that Cashman makes a splash move for Chicago ace Dylan Cease, but it may not be in their best interest following a down year last season.
The White Sox reportedly want star outfield prospect Spencer Jones as a key piece in a prospective deal, but the Yankees aren’t willing to give up a player who stole 43 bases last season at 6’6″ and has the capacity to be an elite MLB hitter.
In return, they’d be getting a 28-year-old who has premium potential but has only featured one season with an ERA below 3.91.
Evaluating Dylan Cease’s Performance
Cease put together a tremendous 2022 campaign, arguably a Cy Young-caliber season. He tossed 184 innings, posting a 2.20 ERA, 11.10 strikeouts per nine, an 82.3% left-on-base rate, and a 38.8% ground ball rate. That was the season he put himself on the map, but his numbers dropped off a cliff in 2023, throwing 177 innings and collecting a 4.58 ERA. His left-on-base percentage plummeted to 69.4%, and his ground ball rate settled in at 36%, walking 4.02 batters per nine, his highest mark since 2020.
With Cease coming off his worst season since his rookie campaign in 2019, the Yankees should be cautious about giving up substantial capital for two years of control before he becomes a free agent. His velocity dropped from 96.8 mph in 2022 to just 95.6 mph on average, a notable decrease.
In fact, both his fastball and slider experienced a drop in velocity, not to mention inches of vertical movement on his curveball. Overall, Cease was simply a less effective pitcher, and while he does throw a lot of innings, the Yankees need to be careful in acquiring an arm that may be trending in the wrong direction.
Yankees’ Potential Alternative: Shane Bieber
They are better off spending a lot less on a player like Shane Bieber, who’s been working diligently this off-season to revive his stuff following an inconsistent 2023 season and would cost significantly less than Cease on the trade market.
Fortunately, Cashman has plenty of time to work with, considering spring training hasn’t even started yet. The Yankees have enough offensive upside to quell any starting rotation issues in the near term. Still, the likelihood is they will add another prominent piece at some point, whether it be before or during the regular season.