Rangers trade Lynn for 2 pitching prospects

Texas gets rotation-hopeful Dunning, lefty Weems from White Sox

December 9th, 2020

The Rangers continued to re-tool their roster with an eye towards the future Tuesday by dealing ace pitcher to the White Sox for a pair of prospects, including right-hander Dane Dunning, who was the No. 5 prospect in the White Sox organization, per MLB Pipeline.

With Lynn set to become a free agent after the 2021 season and coming off a pair of strong seasons in which he finished in the top six in the AL Cy Young Award voting twice, the Rangers were able to get good value for the veteran by acquiring Dunning and left-hander Avery Weems, who was Chicago's sixth-round pick in 2019 out of the University of Arizona.

White Sox get: RHP Lance Lynn
Rangers get: RHP Dane Dunning, LHP Avery Weems

Rangers president of baseball operations Jon Daniels said Tuesday that he's hopeful Dunning can earn a spot in the Texas rotation entering the 2021 season.

“We're hoping to create a very competitive atmosphere amongst a number of young starters vying for a few rotation spots,” Daniels said. “But clearly, he's had seven starts. He had a postseason appearance. He's had some success already in the big leagues, and we're of the mindset that we think he can have success in the big leagues here in 2021.”

Daniels said the Rangers would have to be mindful of the innings and workload of the 25-year-old Dunning, who went 2-0 with a 3.97 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP in 2020, coming off Tommy John surgery he underwent in March 2019.

“We see him as competing for a spot here early on, but hopeful that he claims it and we can grow with him in the rotation,” Daniels said.

Dunning -- now ranked as the Rangers' No. 3 prospect by MLB Pipeline -- is expected to be a strong candidate for a Rangers rotation that is likely to include right-handers Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles. Lefties Wes Benjamin and Kolby Allard and right-hander Kyle Cody are among the other candidates for the rotation.

“I'm just extremely excited for starting with the Rangers,” Dunning said. “I'm very humbled that they went and traded an established starter for me. And it definitely gives me a motivational business, just knowing that they think very highly of me. But for the most part, I'll have the same mentality going into this as I would if I was going with the White Sox or any team.”

Dunning, the Nationals' first-round pick in the 2016 Draft out of the University of Florida, was traded to the White Sox with pitchers Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo López for outfielder Adam Eaton on Dec. 7, 2016. Last season, he allowed 6.6 hits and 3.4 walks and had 9.3 strikeouts per nine innings. He also made one appearance in the American League Wild Card Series against the Athletics.

“Just seeing from the couple games [in which] I made a couple bad pitches to recognizing when I was pitching extremely well -- [I] put a lot of thought into [that] this offseason,” Dunning said. “I think it's going to be real beneficial for me to come up this next year. It just gives me a little edge for this next year.”

Weems spent 2019 with the White Sox’s two Rookie League teams and was 5-4 with a 2.09 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP in 14 starts. Daniels said Weems’ velocity has ticked up on both his breaking balls, which he says are above average. He said Weems will be given an opportunity to be a starter in the Minors.

“He’s a really good story,” Daniels said. “Having a chance to talk to him today, he figured some things out toward the end of his college career, and then, give the White Sox a lot of credit allowing him to be himself.”

Lynn, 33, was 6-3 with a 3.32 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP in 13 starts for the Rangers in 2020. He agreed to a three-year deal at the '18 Winter Meetings and went 16-11 with a 3.67 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP over 33 starts in his first season with the Rangers. He was fifth in the AL Cy Young Award voting in '19 and sixth in '20.

“Our priority is to build a talent base and a group of players that want to overachieve and win together and we feel we added to that here,” Daniels said. “Holding on to Lance for one year or extending him didn’t make as much sense given the backdrop what we’re trying to accomplish long term.”

The Rangers tried to trade Lynn at the Aug. 31 Trade Deadline but were unable to swing a deal. The White Sox have since hired Tony La Russa as their manager, and he was Lynn's manager when Lynn broke into the big leagues with the Cardinals in 2011.

The trade was initially reported on Monday on what should have been the first day of the Winter Meetings in Dallas. The Meetings are instead virtual this year. The Rangers introduced Chris Young as their new vice president and general manager earlier in the day.