The Yankees were connected yesterday to free agent Blake Snell but it appears they are exploring the trade market as well. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Yankees, and the Orioles, have “sincere” interest in Dylan Cease. The O’s were previously connected to Cease and Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reported earlier this week that they “remain engaged” with the White Sox. Rosenthal adds that the Dodgers, Cardinals and Red Sox, all previously reported to have interest in Cease, are possibly still in the mix, with other clubs perhaps involved as well. The Braves and the Reds, who once had interest in Cease, appear to have moved on to other targets with Atlanta trading for Chris Sale and the Reds signing Frankie Montas and Nick Martínez.
Rumors have been flying around Cease all winter but he remains on the White Sox for now. About a month ago, it was reported that the White Sox were “pulling back” on the Cease talks. That wasn’t to take him off the market, but rather that the Sox wanted to wait until Yoshinobu Yamamoto signed to find out if clubs that missed on him would pivot to Cease as a fallback.
With the interest from the Yankees, that would appear to be exactly the case. They were one of the clubs that was heavily connected to Yamamoto before he signed with the Dodgers, leaving the Yanks looking elsewhere. They have considered Snell as well as free agent Jordan Montgomery but are checking in on Cease as well.
For the Yanks, they have Gerrit Cole cemented into the top spot of their rotation but things get less clear after that. Carlos Rodón and Nestor Cortes have the potential to be excellent contributors but both of them struggled badly in 2023, both with injuries and poor performance. Clarke Schmidt will likely be in the mix towards the back of the rotation, but the club subtracted from its depth in the Juan Soto trade, as Michael King, Drew Thorpe, Jhony Brito and Randy Vásquez are all Padres now. Adding another starting pitcher, and having Rodón and Cortes bounce back a bit, would give the club a very strong front four, with Schmidt likely in the five spot and pitchers like Clayton Beeter, Yoendrys Gómez, Luis Gil and Will Warren providing the depth.
Cease would upgrade any rotation in the league, despite a relative down year in 2023. He had a 2.20 earned run average in 2022 but that figure jumped to 4.58 last year, though his underlying numbers paint a less drastic picture. His 2022 success wasn’t…