White Sox trade Yankees target Dylan Cease to Padres

In a surprise move, the San Diego Padres finalized a deal for potential Yankees right-handed pitcher Dylan Cease in a trade with the Chicago White Sox.

The deal sends three prospects, RHP Drew Thorpe, the former Yankees prospect traded to San Diego in the Juan Soto deal, RHP Jairo Iriarte and CF Samuel Zavala as well as big league right-handed reliever Steven Wilson to Chicago.

Despite potentially losing ace Gerrit Cole to an elbow injury for the start of the season, SNY MLB Insider Andy Martino said the Yankees trading for Cease was “unlikely,” earlier on Wednesday.

The Yankees did have interest in the right-hander, but Martino reported this week that there was "a ton of industry chatter" on other clubs having better offers on the table than New York.

Cease, 28, is under team control for the next two seasons and will make just $8 million in 2024.

Cease is coming off a down year for the White Sox when he pitched to a 4.58 ERA over 177.0 innings. He allowed 98 runs (90 earned), both career-highs, with pitching to a 1.418 WHIP.

But he did post 3.72 FIP, a stat that measures how well a pitcher does at preventing home runs, walks, and hit batsmen while getting strikeouts. In all, the righty surrendered 19 homers and 79 walks while hitting nine batters and sending 214 down on strikes, for his third straight season with over 200 strikeouts.

The Padres will be hopeful he can return to his form from 2021 and 2022 when he pitched to a 3.01 ERA (3.24 FIP) with 453 strikeouts and a 1.175 WHIP over 349.2 innings pitched. And in that 2022 season, he finished second in the voting for the AL Cy Young Award when he had a 2.20 ERA.

In 2023, he mainly used a three-pitch arsenal consisting of a four-seamer (which averaged 95.6 mph and he threw 43.2 percent of the time last season), a slider (86.3 mph and 38.6 percent) and a knuckle curve (80.2 mph and 15.2 percent). He also deployed a little-used changeup (74.6 mph and three percent).

Cease's average fastball velocity dipped last campaign after it was 96.8 mph and 96.7 mph in the previous two seasons (going from the 90th percentile to the 77th percentile among big league pitchers). And his hard-hit percentage jumped from 31.2 percent in 2022 (93rd percentile) to 41.6 percent (32nd percentile).

His whiff percentage last campaign was also down to 31 percent after it was 33.2 and 34.6 the previous two seasons, but he was still in the 84th percentile in baseball.

And getting guys swinging has been the name of his game. He has tallied 667 strikeouts over the last three seasons in 526.2 innings, good for 11.4 Ks per nine innings.