Yankees focused on landing Chicago ace pitcher, for now

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Chicago White Sox, dylan cease, yankees, mets
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees still have plenty of pitching options to sift through over the next few weeks with spring training months away. The market is slowly moving, but January projects to be busy at some point, and the Yankees are certainly doing their due diligence on every available pitcher.

It seems more likely that general manager Brian Cashman will look to the trade market to find a controllable arm that won’t cost a ton of money since both Jordan Montgomery and Blake Snell are looking for more than the six-year, $162 million deal the Bombers handed Carlos Rodon last off-season.

Signing a pitcher over 30 years old to a long-term deal spells trouble and Cashman has already gone down that road once before.

With that being said, it is going to cost a significant amount to land a quality starter on the market. In fact, it is nearly guaranteed they will have to give up a top prospect like Spencer Jones or Chase Hampton, which would certainly hurt after sending seven arms to acquire Alex Verdugo and Juan Soto.

Losing Jones, a left-handed batter who has the upside of Aaron Judge with better defense, is certainly not ideal, but he’s an unknown and has a lot of work to do before he reaches that peak, if he ever reaches it.

Hampton, on the other hand, has the upside to be a legitimate starter in the future, having already displayed signs of brilliance. Leveraging the value now for proven talent is something that Cashman isn’t afraid to do, but in a perfect world, he would be able to wait and keep some of his top young talents.

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The Yankees Have Their Sights Set on Dylan Cease

Nonetheless, according to Randy Miller of NJ.com, the Yankees have their sights set on Dylan Cease of the Chicago White Sox. Chicago does feel the Baltimore Orioles have a better farm system to pick from, making them a more ideal fit for a trade, but Cashman may be willing to give up a lot for a pitchers who still has two more years left of control and eats up innings.

Cease has pitched a minimum of 165 innings over the past three consecutive years, including 177 in 2023. While his ERA settled at 4.58, enjoying 10.88 strikeouts per nine, a 69.4% left-on-base rate, and 36% ground ball rate, he put together a Cy Young caliber season in 2022. He enjoyed a 2.20 ERA over 184 innings. The change in pitch-clock may have rushed his delivery, leading to a reduction in velocity by 1.1 mph on his fastball. If he can develop more stamina and get back to his top level of performance, Cease would be a tremendous arm in the Yankees’ rotation, but it would cost them.

The alternative would be Blake Snell, with Jordan Montgomery likely headed back to the Texas Rangers and still holding a grudge against the Yankees.

Snell is an exciting pitcher with elite upside, having just won the NL Cy Young award. However, he’s 31 years old and looking for a monster deal — there are concerns about his longevity and inconsistencies.

Yankees would be taking a big gamble on Snell, but at the top of his game, he’s one of the best pitchers in baseball, which is certainly something to keep in mind.

One way or another, the Yankees are going to have to dish out cash or prospects to improve their rotation, and it is only a matter of time before they make a decision as the market continues to dwindle.