With the MLB GM meetings underway in Scottsdale, there is plenty of buzz abound regarding free agency and possible trades. As the Atlanta Braves come off of another NLDS exit despite a phenomenal regular season, those are both markets that many expect Alex Anthopoulos to make a big move, particularly with a focus on upgrading the club’s starting pitching.
And it seems there might be one possible ace available on the trade market that should pique the Braves’ interest: White Sox starter Dylan Cease.
It’s clear that new White Sox general manager Chris Getz is tasked with completely reshaping the roster on the Southside this offseason, something made evident by not picking up Tim Anderson’s option. Getz furthered that in Scottsdale too, saying that no player on the White Sox roster is untouchable.
That obviously includes Cease, who was pedestrian in 2023 in the midst of a bad situation, but performed as a legitimate Cy Young candidate in the 2022 season. He’s a young arm still under club control through the 2025 season and has already shown elite potential on the mound — the exact type of player we’ve seen Anthopoulos get aggressive and trade for.
The Braves have done a nice job of quickly replenishing their prospect pool after the Matt Olson and Sean Murphy trades of the past two offseasons. However, if Anthopoulos does make a trade, there are a handful of prospects that should only be made available in a Dylan Cease trade, and no other deal.
3. Braves should only trade AJ Smith-Shawver in a Dylan Cease trade
AJ Smith-Shawver experienced a meteoric rise through the Braves farm system all the way to the big leagues this season, starting out the year in High-A Rome, pitching just five games between there and Double-A Mississippi, and then throwing 10 games with Triple-A Gwinnett while being called up sporadically to help the Braves in Atlanta with six appearances.
At just 20 years old, though, Smith-Shawver acquitted himself well in some tough spots with Atlanta, especially given that he was in rookie leagues just two years ago. Over six appearances and five starts with the Braves, he posted a 4.26 ERA with a 1.11 WHIP over 25.1 innings. He was far from perfect, but there’s good reason that he’s listed as the organization’s top prospect by MLB Pipeline.
Given that the Braves would be looking to upgrade the future of their rotation in a trade for Dylan Cease, Smith-Shawver would be an interesting prospect to float to the White Sox. He would give that organization a younger option with potentially more upside — and longer club control — for their rebuild while sending Atlanta a potential other ace to add to Spencer Strider and Max Fried (for now) to help push them over the hump as World Series contenders.
At the same time, if the Braves aren’t trading for Cease, there isn’t another pitcher on the trade market — unless the Brewers look to deal Corbin Burnes, which seems unlikely for now — who could have the impact that Cease could. In those trades, giving up Smith-Shawver wouldn’t be worth it. Dealing him to the White Sox, however, would make a world of sense.