Cardinals should take advantage of Dylan Cease trade rumors

Recent reports have indicated that the Chicago White Sox have re-opened discussions surrounding their ace.
Chicago White Sox Workout
Chicago White Sox Workout / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic has recently reported a growing interest in right-handed pitcher Dylan Cease of the Chicago White Sox among MLB teams. While Cease, 28, has been rumored to be on the trade block for almost a year now, there has been a resurgence in interest surrounding the White Sox's ace pitcher.

In his piece, Rosenthal pinpoints the Texas Rangers as a prime trade candidate. The Rangers will be without 3 top-end starting pitchers in Jacob DeGrom, Max Scherzer, and Tyler Mahle until the middle of the summer at least, so their interest in a top-of-the-rotation starter is expected. Ken Rosenthal listed three players by name as rumored returns from the Rangers.

"The question for the Rangers is whether they would be willing to meet the White Sox’s desired return, which according to sources is in the range of these three players, if not them specifically: utility man Ezequiel Durán and pitching prospects Brock Porter and Jack Leiter."

Ken Rosenthal

Brock Porter is the organization's #4 prospect according to Porter is quite raw at just 20 years old, so his development is key these next few years. Jack Leiter was the second overall pick in the 2021 draft. The Rangers were pushy with him, as he started the 2022 season in AA. Underperformance has been the story of his career since being drafted although the blueprint for success is there still in the 23-year-old righty.

The main piece in this deal is utility man Ezequiel Duran. Duran showed improvement last year in his sophomore season, and he played 6 different positions for the champion Texas Rangers. He is not yet 25, and he finished 2023 with a .276/.324/.443 slash line for a 106 OPS+. His defensive versatility paired with his above-average bat makes him an enticing young player.

It shouldn't be too hard for the St. Louis Cardinals to match this price. There are a few routes St. Louis could go with this trade; they could send MLB players to Chicago paired with some mid-range prospects, or the Cardinals can put together a mighty prospect package to surpass the Rangers' potential offer. Regardless, at least two strong players will have to leave the organization to bring back Dylan Cease.

If the Cardinals choose to send (more importantly if the White Sox choose to accept) MLB players, a package around Brendan Donovan can be had. Donovan plus Tekoah Roby and Gordon Graceffo should get the job done. Roby and Porter are similar enough, and Donovan outweighs the downgrade that Graceffo likely is from Leiter. However, I doubt the Cardinals offer Brendan Donovan due to his tangible abilities and his leadership tendencies.

In a prospect-laden package, the Cardinals could flip Thomas Saggese and Tekoah Roby plus Matthew Liberatore for Dylan Cease. Here, the White Sox receive a prospect who could feasibly play in the majors this year in Saggese. They also get a young and raw prospect in Roby, and Matthew Liberatore can immediately slot into the White Sox's rotation.

Other teams such as the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles are reportedly in the mix for Dylan Cease. At least the Yankees have hit a bit of a snag when exchanging players with the White Sox, however. At least the Baltimore Orioles can exceed the Cardinals' prospect offerings, though they may hesitate slightly after losing DL Hall and Joey Ortiz in a trade for Corbin Burnes.

The Cardinals could surely use another starting pitcher. The near-setback the rotation faced when Sonny Gray took some extra rest due to a strained hamstring showed that the rotation is built on unsteady ground. The addition of Dylan Cease to the mix vaults the Cardinals into the top of the National League pennant race.