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Thursday Bird Droppings: The price for the Orioles to get Dylan Cease is still steep

The latest rumor mill says the White Sox want two top prospects from anybody for Cease.

San Diego Padres v Chicago White Sox
Dylan Cease: Yes or no?
Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Hello, friends.

There are now 77 days remaining until Orioles Opening Day. In uniform number terms, that’s 2022 Terrin Vavra days until baseball returns. He switched to the number 23 for 2023, so it’s not even his most recent number. This time a month from now, we’ll be in the final days before pitchers and catchers report to spring training.

Today, as we have done many times this offseason, we contemplate Dylan Cease. Should the Orioles trade for him? Are they going to? ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, whose reporting mostly comes from a White Sox perspective, wrote yesterday about Cease and how the asking price of new general manager Chris Getz - who was supposedly once offered in a trade for Brian Roberts late in his career - has remained high.

About the Orioles specifically, Rogers writes, “the teams might line up if corner infielder Coby Mayo can make his way into the deal.” Given that this is coming from a Chicago reporter, we can guess from this that that’s who the White Sox want and who the Orioles have yet to give up. There is no guarantee that this is the case, but it’s a rumor that feels like it’s got a bit more substance to it than a lot of the ethereal ones that have come along.

Whether Mayo plus some more lesser guys for Cease is a trade that the Orioles should make is going to depend a whole lot on what Cease is going to be going forward. Every story that mentions Cease makes mention of his Cy Young runner-up season in 2022. That wasn’t too long ago! But also on the other side of the ledger is a 2023 where he finished with a 4.58 ERA and 3.72 FIP.

Did Cease deserve better than those 2023 results? Maybe! The White Sox defense was generally agreed to be not good, and Cease finished the year with a .330 BABIP. That’s high. His runner-up Cy year of 2022 was fueled by a .260 BABIP. That’s low. The Orioles have no need for a mid-4 ERA guy, let alone one they’d have to give up prized prospects to acquire.

On the other hand, if Cease is more of a high-3s ERA guy with the potential to get into the low 3s, that’s worth a trade package that might make people who’ve been intensely focused on the growth of Orioles prospects since 2019 wince more than a little bit. Though the results declined, Cease had nasty stuff in a number of starts, generating more “swords” (a recent Statcast creation based on Pitching Ninja tweets, signifying batters swinging and missing in ugly fashion) than any other pitcher.

Mayo has been one of my prospect guys pretty much since the day the Orioles drafted him. That draft day excitement was chiefly because “Coby Mayo” is a fun Baltimore accent name. Since then, my hype for him has grown more out of his performance on the field. The Orioles are going to need right-handed hitters who hit the ball so hard that they can overcome the left field fence challenge. It seems like Mayo might be that dude. So if they’re going to give him up, they need to get a sure thing who’s going to be around for a little while.

Cease’s two years of team control are enough of “a while” for me. I don’t know that he’s enough of a sure thing top of the rotation pitcher to where I’d be able to stomach giving up Mayo. Maybe that’s how Mike Elias is looking at it too and that’s why what has long seemed like the “most obvious” Orioles trade hasn’t happened yet. Getz might give in eventually, or he might just wait and see if Cease can pitch well enough in 2024 to have value at the July deadline.

Elias’s leverage is that he can just say the Orioles will take their chances with Kyle Bradish, Grayson Rodriguez, John Means, Dean Kremer, and either DL Hall or Tyler Wells, with the possibility of prospects like Justin Armbruester, Chayce McDermott, and Cade Povich. That might be a bad idea, but it has enough of a chance of being an okay idea that the Orioles don’t have to be desperate to make a trade.

Around the blogO’sphere

Do the Orioles have enough pitching as the roster currently stands? (Steve Melewski)
It’s been the only question that matters since October and it’s still the only one that matters. As the weeks go by without a big move, Melewski tries to talk us into how things could work out if nothing else changes.

Should the Orioles trade a top prospect for a starting pitcher? Banner experts weigh in (The Baltimore Banner)
Fans aren’t the only ones trying to tell themselves that Joey Ortiz or Connor Norby should be enough in deals for pitching. Paul Mancano also says he’d deal Coby Mayo for Corbin Burnes, which is going to be a no from me, dog.

Q&A with new O’s pitching coach Drew French (Orioles.com)
The pitching coach will be a guy who does a lot to help get the most out of whoever is in the Orioles rotation. For what it’s worth, he says in this interview, “You kind of smell that he might not be done this offseason,” which is more interesting smoke than we’ve seen in months.

The story behind the story: How the Orioles created a movie retelling the magic of a 101-win season (The Baltimore Banner)
If you watched last night’s video premiere and are curious how it came together, The Banner’s Andy Kostka has got you covered. I’ll admit that I had no interest in watching it. My wife will tell you it’s because I hate fun, which can occasionally be true. I’m a “No movies unless they win the World Series” kind of guy. No books either. But she wanted to watch it, so we did.

Orioles sign Errol Robinson to minor league deal (School of Roch)
The main noteworthy thing about this minor league signing is that Robinson grew up in Maryland and went to high school in DC. If we ever think about him again, things have either gone very, very well for him or very, very badly for the Orioles infield mix.

And not that either we or Adley Rutschman needed this validation:

But you know what? It’s still fun to get the recognition.

Birthdays and Orioles anniversaries

Today in 2002, the Orioles announced that they would move the Camden Yards fences back to their initial distances after pushing them back for the 2001 season. The team went from hitting 90 homers at home in 2000 to just 58 in 2001. Walltimore is proving less temporary.

There are a few former Orioles who were born on this day. They are: 2018-21 super-utility guy Stevie Wilkerson, 2008 pitcher Greg Aquino, 1957 outfielder Carl Powis, and 1954 five-game infielder Neil Berry.

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday to you! Your birthday buddies for today include: $10 bill figure and musical subject Alexander Hamilton (1755), golfer Ben Crenshaw (1952), author Diana Gabaldon (1952), and singer-songwriter Mary J. Blige (1971).

On this day in history...

In 630, the city of Mecca was captured by the prophet Muhammad, who was at the head of an army of followers.

In 1908, the Grand Canyon was designated as a National Monument. Its designation as a national park came in 1919.

In 1964, then-Surgeon General Dr. Luther Terry published a report that showed that smoking may be hazardous to health.

In 1973, owners of MLB approved the institution of the designated hitter in the American League. It took 49 years to come full-time to the National League.

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And that’s the way it is in Birdland on January 11. Have a safe Thursday.