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Cubs trade target: Dylan Cease

They traded him away once. Could the Cubs get him back?

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Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

I’m going to interrupt the “Cubs free agent target” series briefly to post this trade idea.

A lot of people here, as well as many Cubs fans in general, were not happy when the Cubs traded Dylan Cease and Eloy Jimenez to the White Sox for Jose Quintana in 2017. (There were two other players sent to the Sox, but neither ever played in the majors, the deal was essentially Cease and Jimenez for Quintana.)

Truth be told, if the Cubs had won the World Series with Quintana, the deal would have been just fine. They didn’t, and further, there was absolutely no indication at the time of the trade that Q would be as bad as he was on the North Side. In hindsight, it appears that he was injured from around September 2019 through the end of his tenure with the Cubs. Over the last two seasons, Quintana has pitched basically as well as he did on the South Side. The Cubs just got his worst years.

Jimenez has turned into a DH who can’t stay healthy.

Only Cease, from that deal, has given real value to the team acquiring him. It took a while, but Cease put together a 2022 season in which he posted a 2.20 ERA and 6.4 bWAR, which got him second place in A.L. Cy Young voting. He appeared to be on the way to being a top rotation starter for years to come.

Then came 2023. Cease’s numbers took a tumble, all the way to a 4.58 ERA, literally twice the number of earned runs allowed from 2022 (90, as opposed to 45 in 2022). Yet, Cease’s peripherals remained about the same. He still strikes out a lot of guys. He also walks a lot of guys — four per nine innings. He also throws a lot of wild pitches — led MLB in 2023 with 14 — and runs tons of long counts and high pitch counts. In his 33 starts in 2023, Cease threw 100 or more pitches 14 times. He threw more than five innings in just six of those 14 starts, and six innings or more in just 14 of the 33 starts. He was second in pitches thrown in 2023 (3,262) to Gerrit Cole (3,281) — but Cease threw 32 fewer innings than Cole.

You see the problem here, I suspect.

So why am I writing this article? Because Cease is still relatively young (28 next month) and perhaps, maybe, the Cubs’ Pitch Lab could get that command and control harnessed. Cease throws hard, as shown below, but also has a good assortment of offspeed stuff:


That average fastball speed ranked 16th among all MLB pitchers who threw at least 2,000 pitches in 2023. The first Cub on that list is Jameson Taillon, who ranks 45th.

So there’s why. The Cubs could use a starter who throws like this.

What would it take to get him?

This article says the Sox are open for business, quoting GM Chris Getz:

“I don’t like my team,” Getz said. “We have a talented group, there is no question, but it’s not a well-rounded club right now.”

The rest of the White Sox fanbase will readily concur.

This is why the White Sox cut ties with shortstop Tim Anderson and are making everyone available in trades except center fielder Luis Robert – including ace Dylan Cease – as they lower their payroll.

The Sox thus, obviously, need a shortstop. The Sox need a second baseman (Elvis Andrus, the 2023 incumbent, is a free agent and I doubt they’re interested in a reunion).

I went back and forth with Josh on this over the weekend. We differ on what we think the Sox would want for Cease. Josh thinks they’d probably want Jordan Wicks or Cade Horton in the deal, and if so, why do it?

Here’s what I’d offer: Christopher Morel, Luis Vázquez and Hayden Wesneski. That would give the Sox the infielders they need and a starter to replace Cease. The Sox aren’t going anywhere in 2024 and this would give Wesneski a chance to start every fifth day.

Cease has two years of team control left, so that would give the Cubs time to perhaps sign him to an extension, if his performance in 2024 and 2025 would be good enough.

Would that do it? Would the Sox want more? Would they be interested in a reunion with Nick Madrigal? Should they throw in a prospect along with Cease in a deal like that?

Your turn.


Dylan Cease...

This poll is closed

  • 30%
    ... the trade proposed in the article would be good enough to get him and the Cubs should do it
    (245 votes)
  • 29%
    ... the Cubs should trade for him, but it will take more (or different) players to do it
    (243 votes)
  • 36%
    ... the Cubs should not trade for him
    (297 votes)
  • 3%
    Something else (leave in comments)
    (31 votes)
816 votes total Vote Now