Thursday, June 13, 2024

Dodgers Eye Dylan Cease: Potential Returns For The White Sox

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It’s no secret the White Sox are open to trading their ace Dylan Cease. Chris Getz has been adamant that nobody on the roster is untouchable and as the offseason rolls along more suitors are beginning to come to the surface. The  Dodgers are reportedly one of the teams that have expressed interest in Cease. 

On Saturday, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale wrote, “The Los Angeles Dodgers are in trade talks with the Chicago White Sox in an attempt to acquire ace Dylan Cease. The Dodgers badly need pitching help, and the White Sox badly need to rebuild their roster.” 

The report comes as no surprise. The Dodgers starting rotation is thin. It’s one of the reasons they traded for Lance Lynn during last season’s trade deadline. The Dodgers also have a deep farm system deep enough to put together a trade package required to land Cease’s services. MLB Pipeline has the Dodgers ranked as the sixth-best in the MLB which includes five top 100 prospects. 

The two teams have worked together on several trades over the last few years, which include the aforementioned Lynn and Joe Kelly deal, as well as a trade where the White Sox acquired Aldrin Batista and Maximo Martinez in August and a swap that sent AJ Pollock to the White Sox for Craig Kimbrel in 2022. 

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Cease is coming off a down year which may affect his value. He went 7-9 with a 4.58 ERA in 33 starts with the White Sox. However, the 2022 Cy Young runner-up is just one season removed from a 2.20 ERA and career-high 227 strikeouts. 

Cease has produced a large enough sample size to entice an organization like the Dodger, which has a history of developing pitchers. The question is what can the White Sox get in return for Cease? Here are some potential names to keep an eye on. 

Dalton Rushing

The White Sox need catching so why not try to land one of the best catching prospects in the game? Dalton Rushing is MLB Pipeline’s No. 46 prospect in the MLB. He is also the best prospect in the Dodger’s system so admittedly it would be a large ask from Getz. 

Rushing is a power hitter who launched 23 homers during his junior at Louisville before the Dodgers selected him with their first pick in the second round of the 2022 draft. 

Rushing quickly translated that power from college to the pros. In his first season at Single-A, he slashed .424/.539/.788. Last season his average fell to .228 but he still managed to hit 15 home runs, 53 RBIs and produce a .404 OBP in high-A ball.

He has above-average speed for a catcher and can work counts and draw walks, something that the White Sox have struggled with in recent years. His left-handed swing would also play well in Chicago’s short right-field wall. 

He needs some work on the defensive end but scouts say he has a strong arm and adequate blocking skills. Rushing would be the headliner in any return from the Dodgers and a foundational piece Getz could build off of in the future. 

Andy Pages 

Andy Pages is the Dodger’s No. 6 prospect.  He projects to be MLB-ready as soon as next season. The 22-year-old Cuban could be worth taking a flier on in right field. 

In his first four professional seasons, he has hit 86 home runs in 367 games. That includes a career-high 31 in 2021. Pages followed that up by crushing 26 the following season in Double-A while leading the league in extra-base hits. 

Last season Pages struggled to hit for power but still managed to slash .284/.430/.495 before a torn labrum ended his season the day of his Triple-A debut on May 16th. 

When fully healthy Pages has the potential to be a 30-plus home run guy in the big leagues. However, his aggressive approach got him in trouble at times. While he has posted an OPB above .450 in each of his five years in the minor leagues he has also struck out 130-plus times twice in the last three seasons. 

His arm grade is a 70 which explains why he was able to rack up 14 assists in 127 starts last season. He projects to be a right fielder and the White Sox would be a perfect spot for him to get his first MLB opportunity and see extended playing time. 

Nick Frasso 

Nick Frasso is an MLB-ready arm. The Dodgers added him at the trade deadline from the Blue Jays and he is already the No. 4 ranked prospect in their system. 

He has a fastball that sits in the mid to upper 90s and can touch 100 mph. Given his 6’5” frame that fastball is tough for hitters to pick up given his extension. 

He pairs his fastball with a mid-80s changeup and slider. That three-pitch combo netted him 107 strikeouts last season. In 2022 Prasso pitched with four different teams and worked his way up to Double-A. He posted a 1.83 ERA and limited opponents to a .171 batting average. Last season he had a 3.77 ERA in 93 innings, 19.1 of which came in Triple-A. 

 There are some injury concerns with Frasso. He was projected to be a first-round pick out of Loyola Marymount before he suffered a forearm strain in 2020. He had elbow surgery in 2021 but upon his return, he lit up the radar gun with his fastball. However, he has yet to throw more than four innings in a game since turning pro. 

He can still be built up into a middle-of-the-rotation starter but he currently projects to be more of a high-leverage reliever. But adding arms from the Dodgers farm system is never a bad strategy. 

Jorbit Vivas

Jorbit Vivas is the Dodgers No. 17 ranked prospect but he checks a lot of boxes for the White Sox. He is a versatile infielder who can play both second base and the hot corner. However, scouts believe that he will be a second baseman due to his lack of arm strength. A player comp for Vivas would be Nick Madrigal or a poor man’s Luis Arraez. 

Vivas puts the ball in play and does not strikeout out much. In 2022 he had a ten percent strikeout rate which was the fourth best in the minor leagues. The year before he ranked ninth with a 12 percent K rate. In 2022 he also finished second in the High-A Midwest League in hits (129) and total bases (192). Last season he slashed .269/.381/.407 combined between Double-A and triple-A

Like Madrigal, the 22-year-old, Vivas is small at just 5’10” and 171 lbs. Unlike Madrigal, he has some under-the-radar power. In 2021 he hit 14 home runs, followed by 10 in 2022 and 13 last season. 

Scouts say he is a sure-handed second baseman with good range, but there are concerns that the game moves too quickly for him at the hot corner. The White Sox already have Yoan Moncada entrenched at third base. What they need is a second baseman. Vivas could become that guy.

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