The Baltimore Orioles shocked the baseball community with a trade for Milwaukee Brewers ace Corbin Burnes on Feb. 1. Just days after new ownership arrived, the Orioles officially announced their intention to go all-out to win the World Series in 2024.
In return for the three-time All-Star and 2021 NL Cy Young winner, Milwaukee received SS Joey Ortiz and LHP D.L. Hall from the Orioles. Ortiz, 25, is a defensive ace on the verge of full-time MLB duties. Hall, 25, pitched 19.1 innings with a 3.26 ERA as part of Baltimore's bullpen last season.
That was a steep price for Baltimore to pay, but one that's worth it given their competitive aspirations and the depth of their farm system. According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Chicago White Sox consider the Burnes return package to be the "floor" value in a potential Dylan Cease trade. While Burnes is the better pitcher outright, Cease has two years of team control left on his contract and he's only 28. Burnes is a free agent at season's end.
Chicago's reluctance to drop the price for Cease has caused talks to stall, but there's still a strong chance the 2022 AL Cy Young runner-up is dealt before the trade deadline in July. Here are teams that should be willing to bite the bullet on a Burnes-esque deal to land the talented righty.
3. Red Sox should probably get aggressive for Dylan Cease
The Orioles landed Corbin Burnes. The New York Yankees landed Marcus Stroman (and Juan Soto and Alex Verdugo). It is clear the Boston Red Sox aren't gunning for the No. 1 seed and the World Series as aggressively as fans want. Craig Breslow and the new-look front office need to get serious; Boston is not accustomed to bottom-dwelling.
The Red Sox have been mentioned in connection to Jordan Montgomery, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, and other top-shelf pitchers, but so far their big free-agent addition is Lucas Giolito. With all due respect to Giolito, he is not the No. 1 ace on a contender. It's fair to doubt Cease's viability in that role after last season, but he's on the ascent and he's one year removed from bonafide Cy Young contention. The upside is plentiful.
Cease finished last season with a 4.58 ERA and 1.418 WHIP in 177.0 innings pitched. The season prior, his ERA was 2.20 and he was billed as the MLB's next up-and-coming star on the mound. Boston can bet on Cease at least finding a solid middle ground while developing alongside Brayan Bello as Boston's aces of the future. The extra year of team control helps offset some of the major concerns, not to mention Cease's potential longevity on a future extension.
He's the perfect long-term complement to Bello. Whereas Bello pitches to contact and encourages ground balls, Cease is a punch-out expert with high velocity and a potent off-speed arsenal. He can help the Red Sox sustainably keep pace with the rapid improvement of their AL East counterparts.