This perfect Dylan Cease trade package will push Mariners across finish line

Kansas City Royals v Chicago White Sox - Game One
Kansas City Royals v Chicago White Sox - Game One / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

On Sunday, Bob Nightengale reported that the Mariners were entering the conversation around White Sox ace Dylan Cease, who's drawn trade interest from what feels like half the league at this late point in the offseason. In the first few months after the 2023 season wrapped up, the White Sox and GM Chris Getz were hinting at a potential fire sale on their players, saying that were willing to entertain conversations about anyone on their roster.

Things haven't quite shaken out that way, though. In fact, the White Sox have only traded two players so far — Aaron Bummer went to the Braves in November, Yohan Ramirez went to the Mets and they received Max Stassi from the Braves for a player to be named later in December. They seem to be playing coy with Cease, who they came to an $8 million, arbitration-avoiding salary agreement with for 2024. The Reds, Braves, Dodgers, Orioles, and now Mariners are just a few of the teams who are believed to have expressed interest in Cease, but nothing has materialized yet.

However, if the Mariners really are invested in adding a Cy Young candidate who still has a high ceiling in Cease, this trade could potentially give them the edge over all of the other teams that have shown interest, and finally, conclusively provoke the White Sox to actually seal the deal after so much equivocating. In return for Cease, the Mariners could send No. 2 prospect/catcher Harry Ford, pitcher Bryan Woo, No. 12 prospect/outfielder Aidan Smith, and No. 24 prospect/shortstop Axel Sanchez.

Cease Trade

Proposing a Mariners-White Sox trade package for Dylan Cease

Yes, it's a hefty package, but you have to outbid the Orioles, owners of baseball's greatest farm system. This will be costly, and if the Mariners are involved, they know that, too.

Despite the fact that he's still in High-A and Woo is expected to make at least 20 starts for the Mariners in 2024, Ford is arguably the biggest get on this list. The Mariners' first-round draft pick in 2021, Ford has shown hints of real promise in the minors and on the international stage, giving Mariners fans a lot to be excited about when he showed up for Team Great Britain in the 2023 World Baseball Classic and hit .308 with two home runs and four RBI in pool play. He's progressed nicely through the minors, showing incredible plate discipline and hints of power that are abnormal for a catcher.

Woo would be able to make the biggest immediate splash with the White Sox, whose pitching staff had the fifth-worst ERA in the majors in 2023, pushing 5.00. He had a promising rookie season last year, starting 18 games right out the gate for the Mariners, accumulating a 4.21 ERA with 93 strikeouts (and his peripherals hint at more lurking beneath the surface). Rounding out the trade would be lower-ranked prospects Smith and Sanchez, who still made the Mariners' top 30 prospects list in 2023. Smith would be a good outfield prospect addition to a White Sox system that's top-heavy with pitchers, and Sanchez would add a higher graded fielding ability than any of Chicago's top three shortstop prospects.

You might be thinking that this is a lot for just one pitcher, but given how resistant the White Sox have actually turned out to be on a Cease trade, the Mariners would need something extra to push them to the edge and convince Chicago to let him go (prior to the trade deadline, at least). Cease, despite his shakier appearances in 2023, would still add elite whiff and strikeout rates to the Mariners' rotation, and his 2.20 ERA, Cy Young and MVP vote-getting season isn't so far behind in the rearview mirror that there isn't hope he could pull it out again for the Mariners in 2024.