All offseason, Orioles executive vice president and GM Mike Elias has made it clear that the team is pursuing pitching upgrades, both in the rotation and in the bullpen. They have accomplished the objective of signing a closer, agreeing to a one-year contract with Craig Kimbrel, but the search for a starting pitcher is continuing.
Early in December, Jon Heyman connected the Orioles to Dylan Cease and the Chicago White Sox as they look to improve the rotation. It wasn't surprising, given that the Orioles were also in talks with the White Sox to acquire him at the trade deadline.
On Sunday, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported that the Orioles are one of the finalists to land Cease in a trade, with the Atlanta Braves being the other finalist. While it doesn't necessarily mean a trade is imminent, this is certainly good news for the Orioles.
Orioles named as a finalist to acquire Dylan Cease from the White Sox
While the Braves are certainly a very real challenge for the Orioles in terms of trade talks with the White Sox, the Orioles have the best farm system in baseball and can match and top any offer of prospects the Braves have.
Jordan Westburg was previously floated in a trade package, while the Orioles could also deal from their outfield surplus, whether a major league or minor league piece, to get a deal done. A starting pitching prospect could also be included. Chayce McDermott, Cade Povich, and Seth Johnson are their top three pitching prospects.
While Cease is coming off a down year in 2023 that saw him post a 4.58 ERA and 1.418 WHIP, he still averaged exactly 10 strikeouts per nine and is just one year removed from a 2022 season that ended with a second-place finish in AL Cy Young voting.
Acquiring Cease is a move that the Orioles should absolutely make if they are serious about making the jump to competing for a World Series after eclipsing 100 wins and winning the AL East in 2023, despite their playoff run going south quickly.
While he would cost a sizeable sum of prospects, the Orioles have the depth in their system and on the major league roster to absorb such a cost, especially since Cease is under control for 2025 as well.