NL West gets even tougher as SF Giants division rivals add ace in trade

Chicago White Sox Workout
Chicago White Sox Workout / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

Things did not get any easier for the SF Giants on Wednesday. One of their division rivals, the San Diego Padres, added a quality starter in Dylan Cease in a five-player move with the Chicago White Sox.

NL West gets even tougher as SF Giants division rivals add ace in trade

Kiley McDaniel of ESPN confirmed that the Padres will be sending a trio of prospects in Drew Thorpe, Jairo Iriarte, and Samuel Zavala along with reliever Steven Wilson. The White Sox are preparing for a couple of lean seasons, so it made no sense for them to retain Cease. Instead, they bolstered their farm system with this trade.

The addition of Cease will anchor the front of the Padres' rotation along with Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove. Michael King, Jhony Brito, and Randy Vásquez will round out the back end of the rotation.

San Diego's pitching staff will look vastly different from the unit that led baseball with a 3.73 ERA in 2023. Michael Wacha, Seth Lugo, Nick Martinez, and Josh Hader all gave the Padres quality innings last year, but all four have signed elsewhere. Meanwhile, 2023 Padres ace Blake Snell remains a free agent. Of course, all of these departures are overshadowed by the trade that sent Juan Soto to the New York Yankees.

The Padres lost a lot of valuable players on a team that won 82 games last season. Nevertheless, they still have plenty of star talent in the lineup with Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr., Ha-Seong Kim, and Xander Bogaerts. San Diego still plans to be a competitive team in 2024.

The NL West may be one of the toughest in baseball. The Los Angeles Dodgers remain juggernauts after adding both Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto, whereas the Arizona Diamondbacks quietly made some nice moves this winter and look to return to the playoffs after reaching the World Series.

The Dodgers and Diamondbacks are likely the top teams in the division but the Padres will not be far behind. On the other hand, the Giants have made some nice moves this offseason as well. The lineup will look different with the additions of Jung Hoo Lee, Jorge Soler, and Matt Chapman.

The rotation remains a major question mark. The Giants will start the year with Logan Webb, Jordan Hicks, Kyle Harrison, and Keaton Winn in the rotation. Mason Black is in the running to round out the rotation. Webb is the only established arm from the mix.

Alex Cobb (hip) and Robbie Ray (Tommy John surgery) are expected to return at some point this season. Cobb is ahead of schedule. There could be a quality to the rotation once it is back to full strength, but there is no telling how Hicks will adjust to starting and how Cobb or Ray will look following major surgery.

The Giants hope that their young pitchers can bridge the gap until that point. However, there is plenty of risk with that approach and the Giants play in a division that should be extremely competitive. One thing is for certain is that the NL West got tougher with the Padres' addition of Cease.