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Lynn throws the competitive window open

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Win-now deal is not without risks, but hopefully ends as a win-win

Chicago White Sox v Texas Rangers
Lance Lynn #35 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the Chicago White Sox in the top of the first inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on June 22, 2019 in Arlington, Texas.
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Last night while most of White Sox Nation was asleep in their beds, team brass was putting together a trade that may have moved the needle closer to a 2021 World Series.

In acquiring Lance Lynn for Dane Dunning and minor leaguer Avery Weems, the Pale Hose addressed a glaring issue with the starting rotation; an issue that became abundantly clear in the elimination game last year against the Oakland A’s. With Lucas Giolito, Dallas Kuechel and now Lynn pulling their weight at the top of the rotation, the move should alleviate much of the burden on the youthful right shoulders of Michael Kopech and Dylan Cease.

Lynn brings a resume of experience, success and innings-eating reliability to the South Side. Additionally, he’s been through the rigors of numerous postseason battles, having appeared in 26 playoff games as either a starter or swingman during his nine-year career. What Lynn lacks in star power, he has made up for in results, by notching double-digit wins in seven seasons since 2012. Last year Lynn led the American League in innings pitched while earning a respectable 1.5 fWAR, and in 2019 an even more impressive 6.8 fWAR that placed him firmly in third place among big-league pitchers behind only Garret Cole and Jake DeGrom.

As with any trade, there are caveats. Lynn is 33 years old and has only one season of team control before he is eligible to return to the free agent market after 2021. Lynn also looks like he takes his conditioning straight from the book of Bartolo Colon. When you combine those two factors, it’s easy to understand why White Sox faithful may have some initial concerns.

On the flip side, Lynn finished in the Top 10 in Cy Young voting the last two seasons and his fastball has the same octane that it had when he entered the league for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011. Additionally, Lynn’s FIP (field independent pitching) has maintained nearly lock-step confirmation with his actual ERA, with only a minute 0.05 variation over the course of his career. This suggests that luck has not been a significant factor in Lynn’s success.

In sacrificing Dane Dunning to the Rangers, the Sox lost an inexpensive, team-controlled asset with significant prospect pedigree. He looked the part of a solid major-league starter, making his debut last season before his forgettable playoff outing against Oakland. The blame for the loss certainly can’t be placed on the young hurler, as he was only allowed to face four hitters before Ricky Renteria exercised a quick hook in a game that quickly spiraled out of control. Dunning emphasizes pitchability over raw stuff and has faith in a diverse arsenal, possesing the confidence to throw any of his pitches in any situation.

Avery Weems is the X-factor of the deal, a lottery ticket of sorts. Signed by the White Sox to a paltry $10,000 bonus in 2019 after a college senior season that saw him post an ugly 7.15 ERA, Weems possesses an off-the-charts work ethic and drive that helped him thrive in the minor leagues. Although he was initially perceived as an under-slot draftee taken to afford the Sox the financial leverage to sign ballyhooed prep stars Andrew Dalquist and Matthew Thompson, Weems’ domination of minor league hitters and kaizen approach to self-improvement has vaulted him into true prospect status. The lefthander throws a fastball that touches 96 mph and has a curve that the Rangers see as a potential plus-plus offering.

John Kazanas, the scout who signed Weems tells South Side Sox, “Texas people are excited to get a special arm. They are even more excited that they’re getting somebody that has outstanding makeup, work ethic and desire.” Kazanas should recognize a left-handed gem when he sees one; after all, the veteran scout is the same guy who brought Mark Buehrle to Bridgeport as a 38th round overachiever.

Hopefully, in a few years after the results of this trade are more easily ascertained, it will be one of those win-win situations. Perhaps Lynn is the piece that helps the White Sox raise another World Series flag over Guaranteed Rate Field, while both Dunning and Weems find success with the rebuilding Rangers.

Part of the fun of baseball trades is debating their merits while awaiting the results, but one thing seems clear. In acquiring Lynn to bolster the starting rotation Jerry Reinsdorf and company have indicated that the competitive window is officially open on the South Side.

Keep ’em coming Mr. Hahn, let’s take this “hot-stove” to the next level.