Pittsburgh Pirates: Re-Analyzing Top Pitching Trade Targets

With new rumors and transactions since our last top Pirates starting pitching trade targets article was released, let's re-analyze who should be their top targets now in late-November.
Sep 11, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow (20)
Sep 11, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow (20) / Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
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Number Three
Dylan Cease

Dylan Cease finished second in Cy Young voting behind Justin Verlander in 2022. However, he was unable to recapture that season in 2023. Cease is still young, under control for two more years, a durable pitcher, and definitely has the potential to rebound in 2024. On top of that, Cease is a very likely trade candidate to get moved this winter.

Cease pitched 177 innings with a 4.58 ERA, 3.72 FIP, and 1.42 WHIP. The right-hander’s 10.1% walk rate is right in line with his career average of 10.4%. But after posting a K% above 30% in 2021-2022, he saw that dip to a still strong 27.3% rate. One positive takeaway is that he posted a sub-1.00 HR/9 for the second season in a row, coming in at 0.97.

Now, many didn’t have Cease posting a sub-2.50 ERA for a second season in a row. There wasn’t a drastic difference between his 2021 and 2022 xFIP and SIERA. But this dip in production was also unexpected. Cease lost one whole MPH off his fastball; however the main culprit of his struggles may be traced back to more hard-hit baseballs and poor luck. Cease saw his opponent exit velocity jump from 86.8 MPH in ‘22 to 90 MPH in 2023, and his BABIP go from .260 to .330.

Keep in mind the White Sox were one of the worst fielding teams in baseball. They had -59 defensive runs saved, the second most in MLB. With -17 outs above average, the Sox ranked 25/30. Only one of their non-catcher position players had both a positive DRS and OAA count while playing 300+ innings in the field, that being Luis Robert.

Cease also brings a durable arm to any rotation. Since 2021, Cease’s 97 games started is the most by any pitcher in baseball. He also ranks 15th in innings pitched at 526.2 frames. Cease does not become a free agent after 2025, so he’s not just a one-year rental and will be around for two more seasons.