Blockbuster Trade Proposal Sends Dylan Cease to AL West in 5-Player Swap

Starting pitcher Dylan Cease has been one of MLB‘s most popular trade targets this winter. Despite the rumor mill churning out his name quite consistently, he remains in line to take the field for the Chicago White Sox on Opening Day.

That doesn’t mean other interested teams aren’t still trying to pry him from Chicago’s grip. Bleacher Report’s Brandon Scott shared fresh hypothetical trade packages for top targets on February 1. His proposed deal involving Cease has him heading to the Seattle Mariners in a five-player swap. Here’s the trade pitch:

Mariners receive: starting pitcher Dylan Cease
White Sox receive: starting pitcher Bryce Miller, shortstop Colt Emerson, second baseman Sam Haggerty and outfielder George Feliz

FanGraphs’ Roster Resource currently has Miller slotted in as part of Seattle’s Opening Day starting rotation. His inclusion in this deal swaps him out for Cease, who would join Luis Castillo, Logan Gilbert, George Kirby and Bryan Woo in this scenario.

MLB.com ranked Emerson as Seattle’s third-best prospect after the 2023 season. However, Haggerty has been in the big leagues with the Mariners since 2020. He owns a .241/.322/.365 triple slash in 185 games for the club. Feliz wasn’t among the Mariners’ top 30 prospects at season’s end, and the 21-year-old hasn’t made it above Rookie Ball yet.

This hypothetical package feels a little light considering the high asking price Chicago has set in negotiations.

Mariners Have Recently Gotten Involved in Cease Trade Talks

Seattle certainly hasn’t been the first club connected to Cease this winter. They may be the most recent, though. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported on January 27 that the Mariners had “quietly entered trade talks” with the White Sox for the right-handed hurler. Nightengale also said Chicago is looking to have either Miller or Woo be the centerpiece of any potential deal.

After reaching the postseason in 2022 following a two-decade drought, the Mariners just missed returning to October in 2023. They finished with an 88-74 record. That had them two games behind the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers in the American League West, as well as one game out of the final AL Wild Card spot.

President of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto has spent a considerable amount of effort reshaping Seattle’s rotation this winter. However, it’s mostly been to cut costs. Marco Gonzales was included in a trade with Jarred Kelenic to the Atlanta Braves on December 3. They then sent Robbie Ray to the San Francisco Giants on January 5.

Gonzales is scheduled to earn $12 million in 2024, per Spotrac. Meanwhile, Ray is due $23 million. So, those two moves cleared quite a bit of money from the Seattle’s rotation for the immediate future.

What Does This Interest Mean for Blake Snell?

Free agent starting pitcher (and Seattle native) Blake Snell remains unsigned. Back in November, reports surfaced that he badly wanted to pitch for his hometown Mariners. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden also shared an interesting report on January 24. “The Mariners continue to listen to trade proposals for pitchers in their starting rotation since the return in this market would be inflated…then consider signing Blake Snell to upgrade the top of the rotation. Rangers are still engaged in trying to have a reunion with Jordan Montgomery,” he said on X (formerly Twitter). 

The #Mariners continue to listen to trade proposals for pitchers in their starting rotation since the return in this market would be inflated…then consider signing Blake Snell to upgrade the top of the rotation. #Rangers are still engaged in trying to have a reunion with Jordan…

— Jim Bowden⚾️🏈 (@JimBowdenGM) January 24, 2024

This report from Bowden hit the internet three days before Nightengale revealed the Mariners’ entrance into the Cease sweepstakes. It could mean many things, like Snell not being willing to lower his rumored asking price.

However, it could also mean nothing. Seattle could just be trying to put together the best rotation possible to compete with the Astros and Rangers in 2024. We’ll see if Dipoto has more luck in trade negotiations with Chicago than any other team has so far this winter.

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