Former trade target Dylan Cease joining Padres would be awful news for Dodgers

Feb 19, 2024; Glendale, AZ, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Dylan Cease (84) stretches
Feb 19, 2024; Glendale, AZ, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Dylan Cease (84) stretches / Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

It's been a few months since the Dodgers and Dylan Cease were mentioned in the same breath. Rumors about a trade of the White Sox ace were all anyone could talk about for a while, and the Dodgers, who were reportedly interested early on, were out by early January. The rest of the chatter mostly died down by the end of that month, and it seemed like Cease would be staying in Chicago, at least until the trade deadline.

However, a collection of new reports last night revealed new developments for Cease and a few teams, namely the Rangers, Yankees, and Padres. The Rangers have apparently offered a package with names attached (subscription required) — Ezequiel Durán and pitching prospects Brock Porter and Jack Leiter, or some equivalent — and the Yankees have also made an offer. Team officials were sent to Padres' spring training presumably to eye candidates for a package there.

Higher ups being sent to Padres camp might indicate lowkey frontrunner status for the Friars, despite the fact that they're the only team of the three to not have made a publicly known offer yet. The Padres have had an incredibly underwhelming offseason and already have a losing record in spring training, but getting Cease would be a gain that the Dodgers would hate to see.

Padres' potential frontrunner status in trade talks for Dylan Cease should have the Dodgers worried

There remains the question of who the White Sox would ask for in return for Cease. Would they give the Padres the Yankees treatment (insisting on Spencer Jones) by asking for Jackson Merrill, or would they perhaps be more amenable to the relatively more mid-tier combination of Durán, Porter, and Leiter? The Padres don't really have the luxury of depth at the major league level and have a generally lower-ranked farm system, so they would probably have to bite the bullet and give up top prospects if they really want Cease.

There's a certain dichotomy to the ways the Dodgers' two historically biggest rivals have conducted themselves this offseason; the Giants have been swinging and missing, and the Padres haven't really even stepped up to the plate. Now would be the time for them to actually do something big to placate a frustrated fanbase for this year and beyond (Cease is controllable through 2025), but it would be another thing for the Dodgers to worry about it this year.