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How realistic is a Dylan Cease trade for the Cardinals?

SPORTS-BBA-WHITESOX-CEASE-1-TB John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

The Cardinals have been busy this offseason, adding four pitchers to their staff in Sonny Gray, Kyle Gibson, Lance Lynn, and Andrew Kittredge.

But still, they lack that final piece that would make them true World Series contenders. Yes, they finally have an ace in Gray who you can trust in playoff games, and they haven’t just sat around and done nothing with the pitching staff like last offseason. But it’s going to take at least one more move.

Enter Dylan Cease.

Last week, Ken Rosenthal reported that the Cardinals were one of several teams interested in the White Sox right-hander. That was certainly encouraging news to hear, as I’ve wanted the Cardinals to acquire Cease for quite some time.

The Orioles are believed to have the best chance to land him, as noted by Rosenthal on Foul Territory.

But how realistic is the idea of Cease being traded to the Cardinals? We’ll discuss that below.

Cease on Cardinals’ radar?

What we do know is that it’s going to take a haul for the Cardinals to get Cease. I’m talking somebody like Brendan Donovan, Nolan Gorman, and a couple of top prospects. In fact, it might even take trading Victor Scott II to get Cease.

I know Cardinals fans are incredibly high on Scott, but they won’t be able to fleece the White Sox like they did the Rockies and D-Backs. Cease has two years of team control left and the White Sox are going to want something big.

I think it’s clear that the Cardinals have the prospects to get a deal like this done. In my opinion, there’s really no excuse not to get this done if you’re the Cardinals. They’re coming off their first 90-loss season since 1990 and are desperate to get back into contention. They haven’t been to the World Series in over 10 years, much less won a title since 2011. It’s time for bold action.

But will the Cardinals be willing to give up the prospects for Cease? I’m not so sure.

Cease is making only $8 million this year, which means he’s in the Cardinals’ price range if they ship out enough money, according to the self-imposed budget cap.

The Cardinals’ recent track record suggests that they won’t be willing to give up the prospects. John Mozeliak is always talking about how he doesn’t want to sacrifice the future (spoiler alert: he already did by not adding any pitching last year). I have a bad feeling that he’ll come up with a similar excuse again.

What I wish the Cardinals would understand is that giving up prospects and young stars for top talent is not sacrificing the future. Rather, it’s investing in the future and ensuring certainty. That’s what a trade for Cease would do. You have to give to get, and this is something the Cardinals need to do, no matter the cost.

The Cardinals continue to operate under the delusion that they’re the same powerhouse from a decade ago, when in reality, they haven’t caught up with the times.

Even after a 71-91 finish, I think we can all agree that we haven’t seen much in the way of adjusting their model. They clearly haven’t learned the right lessons from 2023. It takes top-level starting pitching to compete in the postseason. Gray alone won’t be enough.

And unfortunately, as much as I want a trade for Cease to happen, I’m just not sure the Cardinals will be willing to do it. They’re always just one or two pieces away from being true contenders, and they never take that next step. I don’t see them doing it now.

So, I’m sorry to be a party pooper, but I’m not terribly optimistic here.

We can dream though.