White Sox add 3 of Padres' top 10 prospects in Cease deal

March 14th, 2024

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Dylan Cease saga has come to its conclusion.

The White Sox traded their ace to the Padres on Wednesday night, ending months of speculation as to whether Chicago would deal Cease, who has two seasons remaining until free agency.

Padres receive: RHP
White Sox receive: RHP (MLB Pipeline's No. 85 prospect; SD No. 5), OF (SD No. 7), RHP (SD No. 8), RHP

Reports this week had indicated that the Yankees were making a push for Cease following the news that Gerrit Cole would miss at least the first month or two of the season, though sources said those reports were overblown.

The White Sox had been scouting both the Padres and Rangers in recent days, leading many to declare them as the frontrunners to land Cease. San Diego ultimately won out with its offer, which consisted of RHP Drew Thorpe, the club’s No. 5 prospect and No. 85 overall according to MLB Pipeline, OF Samuel Zavala (No. 7), Jairo Iriarte (No. 8), along with right-handed reliever Steven Wilson.

Thorpe, 23, had a 2.52 ERA in 23 starts between High-A and Double-A last season and was one of the centerpieces of the Padres’ trade this winter that sent Juan Soto to the Yankees.

Iriarte, 22, posted a 3.49 ERA in 27 appearances (21 starts) between Single-A and Double-A in 2023.

Cease is set to earn $8 million this year and will be arbitration-eligible for the final time next offseason. He had been the subject of trade rumors since last summer, and given that the White Sox had set their asking price quite high this winter, it appeared that he might open the season with Chicago.

“It's happened so many times in the past couple months, it really just feels like noise,” Cease said Wednesday morning. “I definitely see what's being said; people send me stuff and all that, but I feel like if I was really overly focused on that, it would be hard to perform. I just prioritize performance over everything else.”

Cease finished second to Justin Verlander in AL Cy Young Award voting in 2022, going 14-8 with a 2.20 ERA in 32 starts. Cease’s performance dipped last season, as he went 7-9 with a 4.58 ERA in 33 starts, but the consensus within the industry was that the right-hander was closer to his 2022 version than the one we saw last year.

Cease struck out 214 batters in 177 innings last season, making him one of only five pitchers to record 200 strikeouts in each of the past three seasons. The others: Corbin Burnes, Kevin Gausman, Aaron Nola and Gerrit Cole.

Cease allowed one run over 3 1/3 innings against the Reds on Tuesday night in what proved to be his final outing with the White Sox, striking out eight. He has a 2.16 ERA in three starts this spring.

“I think the way I’ve pitched this spring has probably increased [the trade talk] a little bit,” Cease said Tuesday morning. “I've been really locked in.”

For the Padres, Cease joins a rotation that includes Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove and Michael King, essentially taking the spot vacated by free agent Blake Snell.

Cease’s departure leaves the White Sox with Michael Kopech, Michael Soroka, Erick Fedde and Chris Flexen in their rotation, though Brad Keller -- who was recently signed to a Minor League deal -- could join that group before too long. Chicago could also give Thorpe a shot to start in the Majors, though he’s yet to pitch above Double-A.