Grading the Trade: Lance Lynn Sent To The White Sox (Does A Regression Loom?)

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The Chicago White Sox continued to build their roster for a push towards October, acquiring one of the more sought out starters on the trade market. The deal shakes out as follows:

  • The White Sox Get: RHP Lance Lynn
  • The Rangers Get: RHP Dane Dunning, LHP Avery Weems

Was it a good move for the White Sox? Did the Rangers get a fair return? Let’s take a look:

The White Sox Return

On the surface it appears that Lynn has flourished as a member of the Rangers the past two seasons:

  • 2019 – 208.1 IP, 3.67 ERA, 1.22 WHIP
  • 2020 – 84.0 IP, 3.32 ERA, 1.06 WHIP

Over the two seasons he’s produced a 10.31 K/9 and 2.59 BB/9 as he’s increased the usage of his cut-fastball (15.47% and 21.80%). That said it isn’t a lights out pitch, and in ’20 his fourseam fastball generated the most swings and misses with an unimpressive 14.93% Whiff%. With that type of mark, can we anticipate him maintaining that type of strikeout rate?

Then you have his 39.1% groundball rate over the two years, though just a 1.05 HR/9. Would it shock anyone if home runs become an issue (as it is he posted a 1.39 HR/9 in ’20)?

While the luck metrics overall are believable, a .242 BABIP and 79.4% strand rate in 2020 obviously boosted the performance.

It all comes together to paint a concerning picture. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Lynn post an ERA of 4.00 or greater, especially if the strikeouts fall under a K per inning. While he could be a solid piece, there’s more risk than you might think.

The Rangers Return

With Lynn a free agent after the year it made sense for the Rangers to move him to a contender. Acquiring at least one piece that could be part of the rotation over the next few seasons, it’s easy to dub Texas a winner in this deal.

Injuries have cost Dane Dunning significant time, but making his MLB debut in ’20 (34.0 IP) he flashed all of the skills we look for:

  • Strikeouts – 9.26 K/9
  • Control – 3.44 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 45.1%

Considering he missed all of ’19, seeing that type of strikeout/control is highly impressive. Armed with a five pitch mix, his slider was an impressive swing and miss weapon (21.77% Whiff%) and supports at least a strikeout per inning.

The numbers overall could’ve been even more impressive as he gets better with his fourseam fastball (.364 BAA / .546 SLG). Considering the consistent weak contact he was generating (20.7% Hard%), that should come in time.

Having shown more groundball stuff coming up through the minors (49.1% over 62.0 IP at Double-A in ’19), the upside is clearly there.

Also getting Weems just adds to the deal. The 2019 sixth round pick was impressive in his first professional season, posting an 11.04 K/9, 1.49 BB/9 and 66.2% groundball rate over 60.1 IP at Rookie Ball. It’s possible he’s ticketed for a bullpen role, but according to MLB.com:

“Daniels said Weems’ velocity has ticked up on both his breaking balls, which he says are above average. He said Weems will be given an opportunity to be a starter in the Minors.”

Time will tell, but the upside is there.

Trade Grades:

  • White Sox – C (The trade makes sense, but Lynn has too much potential to disappoint and depart after ’21)
  • Rangers – B/B+ (Dunning could outproduce Lynn, as soon as 2021, making him an intriguing name)

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, MLB.com

Make sure to check out all of our preliminary 2021 rankings:

PositionDate Updated
Catcher--
First Baseman11/09/20
Second Baseman11/16/20
Third Baseman11/30/20
Shortstop12/07/20
Outfielder--
Starting Pitcher--
Relief Pitcher--



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