Thursday, April 18, 2024

Kyle Bradish Injury Fuels Dylan Cease Trade Speculation

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In a significant development out of Orioles camp, Kyle Bradish has a sprain in his right UCL per Orioles beat writer Jake Rill of MLB.com. ESPN’s Jeff Passan elaborated by saying that Bradish had a PRP shot and would try to pitch through it, but Bradish will open the season on the injured list regardless. Bradish was Baltimore’s best pitcher last season, and UCL issues are often a precursor to Tommy John surgery. This development could significantly alter Baltimore’s plans and accelerate their pursuit of trading for Dylan Cease.

Bradish’s Breakout

One of baseball’s biggest surprises in 2023, the 27-year-old Bradish had a breakout season last year. He was fantastic, pitching to a 2.83 ERA, 3.27 FIP, 1.04 WHIP, 4.9 bWAR, and 3.8 fWAR in 30 starts, culminating in a 4th place finish in the AL Cy Young award. He was the Orioles best pitcher by far a year ago and a significant reason why they won 101 games. Before the injury, Bradish was projected to be the Orioles number two starter behind recently acquired Corbin Burnes. However, those plans are now up in the air, as any injury involving a pitcher’s UCL is concerning. It would be devastating to the Orioles should he miss significant time.

Baltimore’s Rotation Situation

Fortunately for Baltimore, they acquired Corbin Burnes earlier this offseason. But due to Bradish’s injury, Burnes is now more of his replacement when the original plan was for them to be an elite duo at the top of the rotation. Grayson Rodriguez will likely become Baltimore’s number two starter during Bradish’s absence. Rodriguez is good but not on Bradish’s level just yet. According to reports, John Means is also behind schedule, so the Orioles could be down two starting pitchers before playing a single spring training game. That is not an ideal situation to say the least.

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The thought of Dylan Cease getting traded to Baltimore is not new. In fact, this concept has been discussed and beaten to death by both fanbases all offseason long, yet nothing came of it. The possibility of Cease going to the Orioles seemed to fizzle out to an extent once they acquired Burnes, but the injury to Bradish could reopen those talks. The Orioles still have a ton of top prospects even after pulling off the Burnes trade, so they have the ammo to land Cease if they want him. 

Cease would certainly add upside and certainty to the Orioles’ rotation; there is no doubt about that. He is also under contract for two more years at an affordable price point, which should appeal to a team like the Orioles who do not typically spend money on pitchers of Cease’s caliber in free agency.

From The White Sox Perspective

From the White Sox point of view, there is still no real rush to trade Cease and settle for a package they do not feel is fair value. However, there is also a risk in holding him, so there is a valid argument that trading him before the season is the right move. Jordan Westburg would almost certainly be part of the return, as his name has come up in previous discussions. Beyond that, it remains to be seen who Chicago would want back for Cease should they trade with Baltimore. Cade Povich or Chayce McDermott could also be of interest, given the White Sox need for pitching.

Final Word

Nothing may come of this situation, but the Bradish injury has created a new dynamic that did not exist before. It is a situation at least worth monitoring. Burnes and Cease would be lethal at the top of the Orioles rotation, but it depends on whether they want to pull the trigger on Chris Getz’s asking price. If the Orioles want to win anything of significance this season, they probably should given the competitive division they play in and their surplus of prospects.

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