Dylan Cease traded from White Sox to Padres: Why this deal makes sense for both sides, Yankees are the biggest losers

The Padres finalized a trade to acquire the former White Sox ace in exchange for 3 prospects and a reliever

Right-hander Dylan Cease has found a new home. The San Diego Padres are finalizing a deal to acquire the right-hander from the Chicago White Sox, sources confirmed Wednesday to Yahoo Sports.

Cease has been one of the hottest names on the market this offseason, and over the past month, Chicago received renewed interest from teams looking to make a major splash ahead of Opening Day.

In return for Cease, the White Sox will receive pitching prospects Drew Thorpe and Jairo Iriarte, outfield prospect Samuel Zavala and reliever Steven Wilson, according to multiple media reports. MLB Pipeline ranks Thorpe as the No. 5 prospect in San Diego's system, Zavala as No. 7 and Iriarte as No. 8.

Last season, Cease went 7-9 with a 4.58 ERA for the White Sox, but his 3.72 FIP shows that the hard-throwing righty was better than his numbers indicated. He displayed much sharper form in 2022, when he posted a 2.20 ERA with 227 strikeouts over 32 starts and finished second in AL Cy Young Award voting.

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The trade for Cease takes care of a huge void for San Diego, which needed someone to fill the No. 1 role in the rotation following the presumed departure of NL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell in free agency. Not only does this move give the Padres a new ace, but it also allows right-handers Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove and Michael King to slot back in the San Diego rotation. That said, there remains plenty of room for concern about this rotation, given Cease’s backslide in 2023, Musgrove’s injury issues last season and the fact that Darvish is now 37.

As for the White Sox, they have been looking to re-stack the deck since last season, and new general manager Chris Getz hasn’t wasted any time in trying to get his ballclub turned around. In Thorpe, who was part of the Juan Soto trade, Iriarte, Zavala and Wilson, Chicago receives four young, controllable assets in return for the two years remaining on Cease’s contract, a valuable swap at the beginning of an ugly rebuild. Seeing as Chicago had little expectation of contending in 2024, trading Cease now made far more sense than holding on to him until this summer’s deadline or next winter.

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Arguably the biggest losers in San Diego’s trade for Cease are the New York Yankees. Yahoo Sports reported last month that New York was continuing to have conversations with Chicago about Cease. And in light of the uncertainty around 2023 AL Cy Young Award winner Gerrit Cole, who is headed to Los Angeles this week to visit Dr. Neal ElAttrache and have his right elbow examined, those conversations began to intensify.

Cole’s injury and the Yankees’ increased pursuit of Cease might’ve been the last straw Padres GM AJ Preller needed to pull the trigger on this move for a new ace. Cease isn't a free agent until 2026, so Preller now has two full seasons to negotiate an extension before Cease hits the open market.

The Padres open their season March 20 against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Seoul, South Korea. What that means for Cease is unclear. The team was scheduled to travel Wednesday ahead of the two-game set, with Darvish and Musgrove already named the probable San Diego starters for those games.