Yankees trade rumors heating up around Chicago ace

mlb: oakland athletics at chicago white sox, dylan cease, yankees
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees have been poking around the trade market trying to find a potential deal that would help reinforce their starting rotation. While recent reports have indicated that Blake Snell could be of interest as a free agent, especially after Gerrit Cole gave him a vote of confidence, it is still possible they bring back Jordan Montgomery, despite the Texas Rangers’ interest in a reunion.

General manager Brian Cashman certainly has his work cut out for him trying to find the best player available at a fair cost. On Thursday night, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that the Yankees are interested in acquiring Dylan Cease from the Chicago White Sox.

It is important to note that Cease is an ace-level pitcher at 28 years old and has two more years left of control until he hits free agency. However, Cease has the capacity to be a premium arm but is coming off a down season across 177 innings. He hosted a 4.58 ERA, 10.88 strikeouts per nine, a 69.4% left-on-base rate, and a 36% ground ball rate. His numbers were down significantly from 2022, when he pitched 184 innings and logged one of the best ERAs in baseball at 2.20. He’s pitched three consecutive years of a minimum of 165 innings, suggesting he is durable and ready to make an impact immediately for a team pushing toward a World Series.

The question is, what do the White Sox want in return for a player who could be an ace in the future and has put together a truly elite season?

Right off the bat, the Yankees may have to give up one of their top prospects, whether that be outfielder Spencer Jones or number one pitching prospect Chase Hampton. Cashman already sent a significant number of arms in the Juan Soto and Alex Verdugo deals, so losing Hampton may be tough.

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However, Rosenthal also indicated that the White Sox aren’t necessarily looking for top pitching prospects, which opens up the door for the Yankees to leverage one of their young outfielders.

Preferably, they hang on the Jasson Dominguez, who displayed dominance across eight games before undergoing Tommy John surgery. Dominguez isn’t expected to make a full recovery until next summer, but he projects to be the team’s starting centerfielder in the future.

“They are staying open-minded on the composition of the return, and are not necessarily inclined to favor a team that could include major-league ready pitching, sources said.”

What Would Dylan Cease Bring to the Yankees?

Diving into Cease’s pitch mix, the right-handed arm features a four-seam fastball, slider, and curveball. His fastball last season generated a .273 batting average with a 20.5% whiff rate. His slider was his true knockout pitch, recording a .216 average and 43.3% whiff rate, including 119 strikeouts. Cease is obviously a very solid pitcher, but his fastball struggled last season, losing over one mph on his velocity. In addition, his slider dropped in velocity after enjoying a .128 batting average against at 87.4 mph.

There seems to be a clear correlation between a drop in velocity and less effective pitches, so the consequence of that is evident on paper. Fortunately, it still seems that many teams hold Cease in high regard and the Yankees are one of them. We know they need starting rotation support, and if the White Sox are willing to move him on a fair deal, it is certainly something that Cashman will consider.