Padres' Dylan Cease trade is looking one of the best offseason moves made (period)

Everyone thought Dylan Cease could be good, but his early season performance has the Padres looking like they outfoxed everyone.
San Diego Padres v Colorado Rockies
San Diego Padres v Colorado Rockies / Dustin Bradford/GettyImages

This past offseason started with despair for the San Diego Padres as they traded away Juan Soto and let a slew of top talent walk in free agency. Everyone thought that the Padres were headed towards some version of a massive overhaul and weren't likely to be good in 2024. However, there was a seismic shift in expectations when the Padres went out and traded for Dylan Cease.

While AJ Preller making a trade for a publicly available big name shouldn't be all that surprising, it was such a departure from the rest of the Padres' offseason that it caught many off guard. The move was so sudden and late that Cease had to catch a red-eye flight to Korea to join the team for the Seoul Series. However, it looks like the Padres may have made the move of the offseason when they added him, especially if Cease can continue his early 2024 dominance.

Dylan Cease is making the Padres look like mad geniuses right now

The package to land Cease was not a small one, so Cease had a pretty high bar to clear to make the deal worth it. However, he has seemingly done so with ease through his first five starts with the Padres as he sports a 1.82 ERA with 35 strikeouts against 11 walks in 29.2 innings of work. Looking strictly at fWAR, only five pitchers in baseball have been more valuable, which is pretty sweet when you think about the fact that Cease wasn't even on the team until the Padres were in the air on the way across the Pacific.

When you combine Cease's absolute domination with the fact that the Padres have him under control through the 2025 season at a reasonable payroll figure, San Diego may have actually made the best move of the offseason league-wide when they acquired him. Shohei Ohtani has been great, but he also cost $700 million, which is a lot of money no matter how much is deferred. Sonny Gray has been about as good with the Cardinals as Cease has been, but St. Louis is paying him a lot more to do it. Blake Snell and Cody Bellinger are already hurt (along with a slew of other guys) and Jordan Montgomery has been steady, if unexciting, with Arizona thus far.

Sadly, the move that might have the best argument to be better than Cease is the Yankees landing Soto. Soto has also gone nuclear in New York while hitting .319/.431/.564 through his first 25 games, so time will tell as to which move ends up being better. However, Soto is only under control for this season, is making $31 million vs. Cease's $8 million in 2024. Plus, the Padres used the assets they got in that Soto trade to acquire Cease.

Still, for a very late offseason trade after a truly dark period for the Padres franchise, it looks like San Diego still found a way in Cease to keep the team competitive after what was shaping up to be a disappointing 2024 campaign.

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