The Red Sox have been linked to the Chicago White Sox's star right-hander Dylan Cease multiple times this offseason.
But rival clubs have also been linked to the young pitcher. And they may be more willing to make a competitive offer to acquire Cease for themselves.
The American League East-rival New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles have been pursuing Cease as an option for their rotations, throwing themselves into the ring with multiple other organizations that Boston has to compete with. The Dodgers, Reds, Cubs and Mariners are among the other interested teams (that we know of).
Baltimore is likely among the most serious contenders for Cease — one of the final pieces of the Orioles puzzle would be an ace-caliber arm to bring their rotation together. John Means' return brought the O's closer to having a true ace on the roster, but Baltimore needs someone younger and more durable that it can rely on to give consistent starts with quality results.
And after years of lackluster seasons and multiple favorable drafts, the Orioles have the assets to offer Chicago to make a deal. MLB.com writer Manny Randhawa proposed that Baltimore give up three prospects and a current major leaguer for Cease in Samuel Basallo, Connor Norby, Cade Povich and Ramón Urías.
Can the Red Sox compete with AL East rivals for Dylan Cease?
The Yankees are also contenders for Cease's services. MLB.com writer David Adler has compared Cease and his pitching style to popular Yankee and reigning AL Cy Young winner Gerrit Cole. Another Cole-esque pitcher on the roster could make New York an even more dangerous squad than before, and if Carlos Rodón finds his way, the Yankees rotation could be fearsome.
The Bombers have the resources at its disposal to entice Chicago into a trade, but whether they would be willing to give them up is another question entirely. Adler posits the Yankees would need to give up Oswaldo Cabrera, Oswald Peraza, Austin Wells and Will Warren to earn Cease's next two years.
Adler also suggested that the White Sox would love to get their hands on phenom Jasson Dominguez, but just as they were in the Juan Soto trade, the Yankees are unwilling to make such a sacrifice.
Boston has become notoriously stingy when it comes to trading pieces from its farm system. While the Red Sox have the prospects to give, it's unlikely that they'll want to compete with what the Orioles and the Yankees can offer.
According to MLB.com's Andrew Simon, the White Sox would be interested in a player like Kyle Teel in exchange for Cease. But Teel likely isn't among the prospects Boston would be willing to consider parting with this offseason.
Holding onto Teel means that the Red Sox would have to send the likes of Roman Anthony or Nick Yorke to Chicago. Yorke has been involved in trade discussions before, but letting go of Anthony would be a tough decision for Boston to make, and one that recent history suggests it will not.
The White Sox will not part with Cease for a small price, and with a Cy Young-caliber season in his young career, they shouldn't. The Red Sox could be their own biggest competitor in the Cease market — but having the Yankees and Orioles also in the mix certainly doesn't help.