As per reports from Bob Nightengale, the Mariners have expressed interest in trading away Bryan Woo or Bryce Miller in exchange for Dylan Cease. Cease had an outstanding 2022, posting a 2.20 ERA and 1.10 WHIP over 184 innings, giving him a second-place finish in the AL Cy Young race and garnering a handful of MVP votes.
2023 was a very different year for him. He regressed to a 4.58 ERA and 1.42 WHIP over 177 innings, seeing a huge dip in effectiveness in his slider and four-seam fastball. In 2022, his slider had an incredible 36 run value and batting average against of just .128, compared to a run value of 10 and a batting average of .216 in 2023. Outside of his walk rate, he regressed in almost every major Statcast category.
Because of the consistent velocity and spin rate on his pitches, it seems that he just struggled with placement and finishing pitches, factors that could have been affected by the new pitch clock rules. Before the implementation of said rules, Cease had a pitch tempo of around 18 seconds with the bases empty and 24 seconds with runners on. In 2023, he had to shave 3-4 seconds off his tempo, a potential key contributor to the increase in mistakes.
So why are the Mariners pursuing him? It's not clear why. Especially at the cost of high-upside, young arms like Bryce Miller and Bryan Woo who are now proven to be solid contributors with years of control, it doesn't seem to be a very prudent decision. It could be the case that the White Sox organization simply lacks the depth and resources necessary to realize Cease's pitching peak while the Mariners pitching lab is one of the best in the business.
In Chicago, Cease would be a shadow of his full form while Seattle might have the right tools to get him where he needs to be. It also helps the White Sox in their teardown of the organization following years of regular season disappointment and missed playoff opportunities.
If the two teams manage to work out a deal, a starting rotation of Luis Castillo, George Kirby, Logan Gilbert, and Dylan Cease does sound quite ferocious, especially if Seattle is able to unleash some of Cease's 2022 form. If not, the existing rotation with Miller and Woo at the back-end still gives the team some of the best pitching in MLB.