White Sox GM: Dylan Cease offers improved after strong spring

ByJesse Rogers ESPN logo
Friday, March 15, 2024

A good showing this spring by former Chicago White Sox starter Dylan Cease helped his value in advance of his trade to the San Diego Padres on Wednesday, according to White Sox general manager Chris Getz.

"His last outing in Cincinnati was an impressive one," Getz told reporters Thursday morning via Zoom. "There was a lot of buzz at that game. Unsurprisingly, teams really stepped up. ... Up until yesterday, we didn't feel like we had a deal on the table that we felt like met the mark, and it finally came together and we moved on it."

Cease, 28, was traded for three prospects and reliever Steven Wilson. The deal was made after Cease appeared in three Cactus League games, giving up two runs on six hits in 8 innings while striking out 14.

Those numbers are closer to his 2022 regular season, when he finished second in American League Cy Young voting. Last season, he compiled a 4.58 ERA as the White Sox lost 101 games.

"Last year wasn't Dylan's best year," Getz said. "There was a level of concern that perhaps he wasn't going to get back to who he's been in the past. Other teams' comfort levels were raised when they were able to see it in person."

Cease was the subject of trade rumors all offseason as Chicago is in a mini-rebuild mode, especially on the mound. The five-year veteran has two years of team control left before entering free agency, and Getz wanted full value for him. That meant trading Cease before the season started, though Getz was asked whether he considered waiting until the July trade deadline.

"That's a risk," Getz said. "Were we willing to take that? Of course, we were willing to take that into the season. However, there is no denying a lot of things can happen on a baseball field throughout the season. You weigh that risk with the offer that was given to us by San Diego; we felt like that was something that was likely not to be met if we would have taken that into the season.

"We had a highly motivated team that wanted to start the year out with Dylan Cease."

Getz indicated that two of the prospects the White Sox got in return -- pitchers Drew Thorpe and Jairo Iriarte -- have a chance to be on the big league team this season, along with Wilson. Outfielder Sam Zavala will begin the season in the lower levels of the minor leagues after hitting 14 home runs and stealing 20 bases at Single-A for San Diego last year. Getz was not able to pry any of the Padres' top prospects from them, including Jackson Merrill or Ethan Salas.

"There are different ways to go about it. More than anything, very excited about the return we got from the San Diego Padres," Getz said.

Getz also announced Thursday that right-handerMichael Kopech would begin the season in the bullpen as they intend to transition him into a back-end reliever. Kopech, 27, has struggled with his command and efficiency as a starter over his career. He pitched in three games out of the bullpen last season.

"We were going to run the risk of overtaxing our bullpen and remainder of our pitching staff," Getz said. "We were looking to find some starters who were looking to be more efficient on the front end to help navigate a season. We know that Michael has the capabilities to get anyone out based on his stuff. ... However, the desire to go deeper into games and be more efficient is something we are aiming for."

The trade of Cease and move of Kopech to the bullpen leaves the White Sox with a new starting staff compared to last season. Lance Lynn and Lucas Giolito were traded last summer, while Mike Clevinger didn't return.

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