Entering the offseason, the Boston Red Sox were expected to be active in acquiring new arms. New Chief Baseball Officer Craig Breslow toed the rubber for 12 seasons as a Major League reliever, and the struggles of Boston's pitching staff became a defining characteristic of the Chaim Bloom era.
Between Breslow's pitching background and Boston's dire need to improve on the mound, it seemed like the perfect recipe for an upgraded rotation this offseason.
But for one potential trade target, the asking price might be too high.
Red Sox Rumors: Not Pursuing Dylan Cease?
The Red Sox reportedly kicked the tires on Chicago White Sox starter Dylan Cease at last year's trade deadline, but Chicago was adamant that 24-year-old Red Sox starter Brayan Bello would need to be included in a return to the South Side.
Cease, a right-hander, has 123 big league starts under his belt, accumulating a 43-35 record, a 3.83 ERA, and 10.8 K/9. He regressed in his 2023 season after finishing second in the 2022 American League Cy Young Voting. Cease's 2022 season was pure dominance, as he pitched to a 14-8 record, a 2.20 ERA, and 227 punch-outs in 184 innings of work.
For the Red Sox and other teams potentially interested in Cease, the belief is that his 2022 season is more emblematic of his talent level and potential, and that his 2023 campaign will prove to be more of an outlier.
Meanwhile, Bello was a scarce bright spot for the 2023 Red Sox. He advanced through Boston's farm system as a top-five prospect and made his debut in 2022. He closed out his 2023 season with a 12-11 record, a 4.24 ERA, and 7.6 K/9. Bello had a few rough starts sprinkled in, but that is to be expected and part of the growing process for a young Major League pitcher.
Between June 9 and July 15, Bello was a steady presence, stringing together seven consecutive starts of six or more innings. His 2023 performance should cement him as one of the cornerstones of the Red Sox future, and their unwillingness to part with him at last year's deadline suggest that the club feels the same.
If Bello remains part of the asking price for Cease, then Boston would be better served to look elsewhere to fill their rotation needs.
It is worth noting that Chicago has had turnover in the front office since those reported negotiations, as they fired executive vice president Ken Williams and general manager Rick Hahn in August. Perhaps with that personnel shift in the front office on the South Side, Boston might be able to procure an asking price that does include Bello.
Bello should remain a key contributor on the Red Sox for years to come. Although Boston undoubtedly needs top of the rotation talent, shipping out a key piece of their young core is not the answer.
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