ROSENTHAL: What I'm hearing about trade talks with White Sox outfielder Dylan Cease

Early Tuesday, I heard that the Texas Rangers may be close to acquiring Chicago White Sox outfielder Dylan Cease. This information turned out to be incorrect, at least at that moment, but two sources familiar with the talks confirmed the teams’ participation in the recent discussions.

Which makes sense. There are growing signs that the White Sox are getting more serious about the trading halt. The Rangers will begin their championship defense in 2024 with a patchwork staff.

As one Rangers team member, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: “Did you see our rotation in the first half?”

This rotation is currently expected to include Nathan Eovaldi, John Gray, Andrew Heaney, Dane Dunning, and Cody Bradford. Not terrible. But ideally, the Rangers will add a top-caliber player while they wait for three injured players — Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer and Tyler Mahle — to return around or after the All-Star break.

In the early part of the offseason, the Rangers' option was free agent left-hander Jordan Montgomery, who after arriving at the trade deadline played a pivotal role during the team's run to its first World Series title. But ownership declined, apparently because of uncertainty about future local television revenues.

One might question that position, considering that the Rangers should generate huge revenue this season as they reap the benefits of winning the Series and prepare to host the 2024 All-Star Game. But Sez, who makes $8 million with another year of arbitration eligibility remaining, is considered… More financially fit than Montgomery.

If healthy, a second-half rotation that included Cease, Eovaldi, deGrom and Scherzer would not only make the Rangers a strong candidate to win the AL West, but would also greatly improve their chances of becoming the first back-to-back Series champions since the 1998-2000 New York Yankees.

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the The Dallas Morning News reported That White Sox scouts “descended in droves” to Rangers camp this week. Several members of the White Sox front office have scouted the San Diego Padres in a similar manner, sources said.

The question for the Rangers is whether they are ready to make the White Sox's desired return, which according to sources falls within the range of those three players, if not them specifically: utility man Ezequiel Duran and prospects Brock Porter and Jack Leiter.


Jack Leiter is one of the names being discussed in a potential package for Dylan's stoppage. (Joe Camporeal/USA Today)

Duran, 24, emerged as a valuable piece for the Rangers last season, batting .276 with a .768 OPS and playing six different positions. Porter, 20, is the No. 5 player on the team, according to The athlete Keith Law. Leiter, 23, was the second overall pick in the 2021 draft, but has yet to meet expectations. Law ranked him as the Rangers' No. 14 player.

When these names were presented to a rival executive who was not involved in the ceasefire discussions, he described the potential package as “realistic.” The shortstop didn't have as strong a 2023 season as Corbin Burns, who was acquired by the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for DL ​​Hall, infielder Joey Ortiz and the No. 34 pick in the 2024 draft. But the extra year he spent controlling the club makes him even more valuable. The White Sox, rebuilding under new general manager Chris Getz, have set high standards.

For two years off, the Rangers may consider the price worth it. In 2022, Cease's breakout season, he went 14-8 with a 2.20 ERA, finishing second to Houston's Justin Verlander in AL Cy Young Award voting. The holdout was not effective in '23, as he went 7-9 with a 4.58 ERA. But executives around the league still view him as a potential ace.

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The Rangers certainly aren't the only team interested in stopping. The Padres need help in the rotation. The New York Yankees, who have been waiting for word on Gerrit Cole's right-handed elbow, have reportedly signed him on. Other clubs may also be in the mix. Meanwhile, the White Sox are working with free agent right-hander Michael Lorenzen, a potential replacement for Cease, according to a source. Lorenzen could be an option for the Yankees as well.

White Sox manager Pedro Grifol asked Tuesday if he still believes Cease will be the team's starter on Opening Day, He told reporters“I don't know. I mean, how am I supposed to know? I don't know what's going to happen there. I don't know where the other teams are, how urgent they are.”

Cease made his third start of the spring on Tuesday night, allowing one run in 3 1/3 innings against the Cincinnati Reds. His Cactus League ERA, over 8 1/3 innings, is 2.16.

The athleteAndy McCullough contributed to this report.

(Top photo by Dylan Cease: Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

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