Lance Lynn pitches for Rangers

Giving up Dunning for Lynn is a massive overpay by the White Sox

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The Chicago White Sox have agreed a trade with the Texas Rangers to acquire Lance Lynn. Lynn joins a rotation already including Lucas Giolito, Dallas Keuchel and Michael Kopech.

Texas will receive Dane Dunning and Avery Weems in the trade. Lynn is in the final year of a three-year contract – he will be a free agent at the end of 2021 season. This, barring an extension before the season starts, is no more than a rental for the ChiSox.

It has been a horrible offseason for Chicago. They puzzlingly hired Tony La Russa. The decision has only looked worse as time has gone on. The White Sox have embarrassed themselves with the La Russa situation – there is yet greater pressure on every move they make this offseason as a result. La Russa, of course, gave Lynn his debut on the Cardinals.

This is an almighty win-now move from the White Sox. Dunning was a top-80 prospect ahead of the 2019 season – he has started just eight Major League games. This is a sky-high price to pay for one year of Lynn even after two strong seasons with the Rangers.

Lynn was fifth and sixth in Cy Young voting over the last two seasons and likely comes in as the one or two starter for Chicago. He arrives with experience (236 regular season starts) and a good recent record. The former Cardinal is a fastball thrower – 90% of his 2020 pitches were fastballs of some form, and it helps him work deep into games. Pitching deep is a rare art in the modern game, and if Lynn can pitch 200 innings at 3.50 ERA he will be a major component of a good White Sox team – maybe Dunning doesn’t seem such a huge price.


Eno Sarris reports that this addition takes the White Sox’s rotation from below-average to top 10. That’s a real, notable leap for a team loaded on offence with Jose Abreu, Yoan Moncada, Yasmani Grandal and Eloy Jimenez.

Lynn is a reliable veteran. His presence and track record are nice to have compared to the uncertainty of Kopech and Dylan Cease.

The best case scenario is Lynn, in his age-34 season, reproduces what he did with the Rangers. If that happens and the White Sox contend, maybe this trade is okay. His expected numbers were good last season and his velocity hasn’t dropped off. Hope that Lynn can still be that pitcher is justifiable, but that doesn’t mean it was worth giving up Dunning.

Jose Quintana, Jake Odorizzi and James Paxton are still on the free agent market. Quintana isn’t as good as Lynn has been, Odorizzi and Paxton are coming off injuries, but they would all cost roughly the same amount per year and could be acquired without giving up a high-end prospect.

Lynn makes the White Sox better in 2021. If they win it all, that’ll be all that matters. If they fall short, if Lynn underperforms or if the team isn’t competitive, the decision to send Dunning for a one-year rental will seem even more reckless than it does now. Chicago have a long window ahead of them with prospects to come – there’s no need to go all-in on a good, not great, starter.
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