Padres pull off Dylan Cease trade in stunning counter to rest of offseason

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

For a while, the San Diego Padres looked like all they would have to show for the offseason was four free agent signings (and a weird four-year contract for Wandy Peralta) and the slew of Yankees they got in return for Juan Soto. Signing Yuki Matsui was a win, but otherwise, the Padres front office has just seemed stagnant, content to let the rest of the league pass them by.

But maybe we underestimated the way AJ Preller can move in silence. After less than 24 hours filled with renewed speculation about White Sox ace Dylan Cease, and with more concrete details pointing to a future with the Rangers or Yankees, the Padres have secured themselves a near-Cy Young winner as the closest replacement San Diego could hope to get for Blake Snell.

Padres trade for White Sox ace Dylan Cease in surprising, out-of-left-field win

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported yesterday that White Sox scouts had descended on Rangers spring training (subscription required), and that the Rangers had already offered a package made up of Ezequiel Durán and two pitching prospects; Bob Nightengale also supplied a report that said the Yankees had made an offer that didn't include prospect Spencer Jones, who the White Sox had demanded in previous discussions. Rosenthal also added that Chicago team officials visited Padres camp, but otherwise made no other mention of the Friars.

But perhaps that was all Rosenthal needed to say about the Padres anyway. "Team officials" certainly seems more significant than scouts, and the reported return for Cease, according to Dennis Lin, will include "multiple notable prospects." Those team officials must've liked what they saw out there in Peoria, and it seems like they had the pick of the litter, staring with Drew Thorpe (recently acquired from the Yankees) and Jairo Iriarte.

Cease will join Joe Musgrove and Yu Darvish atop the Padres' rotation and might even be considered for the No. 1 spot when the Padres return from the Seoul Series next week.

After an offseason filled with a whole lot of nothing and a depressing trade away of one of the game's best players, getting Cease after so much hubbub and confusion that's spanned the entire offseason is an unadulterated, much-needed win for San Diego.