Breaking News: Atlanta Braves rotation is set……

MLB Trade Rumors: Dylan Cease Talks Intensify; Braves Finalist for White Sox Pitcher.

Trade discussions surrounding Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Dylan Cease “have intensified in the last 48 hours,” according to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi.

Morosi reported there’s a chance he’s moved before the winter meetings get underway Dec. 4. The Atlanta Braves are reportedly one of the finalists still pursuing a deal.

Atlanta’s rotation looks to be set for the most part, with Spencer Strider, Charlie Morton, Max Fried and Bryce Elder all figuring into the equation. That hasn’t stopped the front office from thinking big in terms of that fifth spot.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Mark Bradley wrote they “made a run at Aaron Nola” and “surely kicked the tires on Sonny Gray,” only to see both land elsewhere. The newly signed Reynaldo López could be a candidate for the rotation, but the continued pursuit of Cease underlines how nothing is set in stone there.

The right-hander sported a 4.58 ERA, his worst since his rookie season in 2019, and had an MLB-high 14 wild pitches to finish out 2023. According to Baseball Savant, he also fell from the 90th percentile in expected ERA (2.70) to the 51st (4.13) while allowing a career-high 41.6 percent hard hit rate.

Perhaps Cease simply had a poor season, which is a plausible explanation with how poorly this past year went on the South Side. This is somebody who was the American League Cy Young Award runner-up in 2022.

Because of the options they already have at their disposal, the Braves don’t necessarily need to shop for an ace, either. They could afford to bank on Cease returning to form in 2024.

The $8.3 million Cease is projected to earn in arbitration, per Spotrac, would also be helpful for a team looking at a $181.6 million payroll. A comparable pitcher will almost certainly carry a much higher salary on the open market.

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