Another staggering blow to the farm system but this might be the final move that puts the White Sox over the edge. If Sale was involved in the previous trade instead of Rodriguez, this trade is less necessary, but the Padres acquired Yu Darvish the same day they landed Blake Snell, so why not? But of course, due to the limitations of the trade feature, the White Sox will need to deal with St. Louis.
A lot of White Sox fans are high on Andrew Vaughn, seeing him be the DH by the end of the 2021 season. He is good, no question, and he has the potential to be a 30-40 home run a year guy in about three years. This team I’ve built through these potential trades already has a DH and José Abreu is not going anywhere any time soon. That leaves Vaughn in the wind without any playing time to upgrade that overall from 66.
Dylan Cease showed a glimpse of emerging in 2020, but he did not take that step forward many expected him to like Lucas Giolito did. He had some nasty stuff at times and when his curve was on, it was on. He struggled towards the end of 2020 and in the postseason. Cease is cut some slack for only being 25 in his sophomore season but Jack Flaherty is the same age and is further along in development.
Vaughn and Cease have the potential, but the window is open now so adding one of the primer pitchers in the league is going to give the team the best chance to bring a World Series back to the south side. One could argue for story-telling purposes, bringing back Sale would complete the rebuild, and it would be a nice bow. However, Flaherty reuniting with his high school coach and topping the rotation with one of his former teammates is another metaphorical bow on top.
This trade addresses the Cardinals’ desperate need for a productive first baseman not named Paul Goldschmidt because he is all they got. In St. Louis, Cease can get the innings he needs to properly emerge as the star he has the potential to be. This trade gives the White Sox a second ace and a rotation that holds up with San Diego’s. Flaherty is an ace and there is no doubt about it. He finished fifth in rookie of the year voting and followed that up by finishing fourth in Cy Young voting the next year.
His 2020 was a bit scary as he had a 4.91 ERA in 40 innings but that is not the Flaherty we all know. It’s safe to chalk that up to the oddity of 2020 and cut him some slack. Ignoring that, as I did with Gordon Beckham’s stats for a long time, and you get a Cy Young candidate that is only 25 and he is only going to get better.
Realistically, maybe a couple if not all three of these trades should not happen. A team should not give up on a player not only the fans but the organization has invested heavily into. It will bring the team closer to the window but could shrink it’s time open. Patience is a virtue and it has been proven to be effective.