Yankees ‘Prefer’ This Blockbuster Trade Over Signing Blake Snell

The New York Yankees continue to pursue an addition to their rotation as Opening Day draws near.

USA Today MLB insider Bob Nightengale has reported that the Yankees have made a five-year, $150 million contract offer to reigning Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell, who is a free agent. But now he has revealed that the Yankees would prefer acquiring a top-of-the-rotation arm by trading for one of the most coveted players on the market instead.

“The New York Yankees would prefer to trade for Chicago White Sox ace Dylan Cease instead of signing free agent Blake Snell, but they are at a standstill with the White Sox,” according to Nightengale. “They refuse to part with top outfield prospect Spencer Jones in any package for (Cease) while the White Sox are insisting on him.”

Nightengale had previously reported that the Yankees are unwilling to part with Jones — who hit a 470-foot home run in his Spring Training debut — in a proposed trade with the White Sox, but this update indicates that Cease remains the team’s top pitching target even as negotiations with Snell have developed. Nightengale added that the team’s potential tax hit has become a serious snag in those negotiations.

“The Yankees say they will not consider a short-term deal or early opt-outs with Snell because of a luxury-tax surcharge,” he added. “They offered a five-year, $150 million contract for Snell in January but there was no counter-offer. If the Yankees signed Snell, they would be taxed at 110% while also losing two draft picks.”

GettyNew York Yankees GM Brian Cashman has remodeled the roster after a disappointing 2023 season.

Dylan Cease Would Bring a Durable One-Two Pitching Punch to the New York Yankees

Though they may not think he’s worth their top-ranked prospect from last year in Jones, the Yankees might see durability as the key differentiator in Cease over Snell.

In eight MLB seasons, Snell has only ever pitched in 180.2 innings once, during his stellar, Cy-Young-winning 2018 campaign. Meanwhile, Cease is three years younger and pitched for 184 innings in 2022.

Snell has more accolades, more consistency when he is pitching and sports nastier stuff, but his projected cost may not justify all of that in the Yankees’ mind, particularly with his limited durability. Snell could be seeking a nine-year deal worth as much as $270 million, according to the New York Daily News. Meanwhile, Cease has just signed a one-year, $8 million deal with the White Sox to avoid arbitration.

While the Yankees are looking to pad a rotation that has injury concerns and significant drop off after ace Gerrit Cole, Cease could offer just enough firepower to give them confidence in a return to the playoffs and run at the World Series. He regressed to a 4.58 ERA in 33 starts last season, but flashed a stellar 2.20 ERA in 32 starts the year before.

Meanwhile, the Yankees have reason for optimism that new addition Marcus Stroman (3.95 ERA in 2023) and bounce-back seasons from Carlos Rodón (2.88 ERA in 2022 before an injury-plagued 2023) and Nestor Cortes (2.44 ERA in 2022 before his own injury-plagued 2023) would round out a solid starting pitching staff.

A second straight season of 33 starts from Cole and Cease, along with dependability from those three starters, would give the Yankees as solid a rotation as almost any other team.

When Might the New York Yankees Trade for Dylan Cease?

As the White Sox hold out for the best possible package in exchange for Cease, they have signaled that the ace projects to be their Opening Day starter. That could change well before 2024’s trade deadline if the team is performing poorly on the field.

“If the White Sox are struggling as bad as expected during the 2024 season, perhaps the franchise will explore moving Cease on a more serious level,” Erin Walsh noted for Bleacher Report. “For now, it looks like he’ll be remaining on the South Side to begin the year.”

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