Guardians' rival pushes back competitive timeline with trade

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

The immediate competitive landscape of the American League Central may not have changed on Wednesday, but a division rival of the Cleveland Guardians did manage to push back their competitive timeline via trade.

Agreeing to terms on a trade with the San Diego Padres, it is the Chicago White Sox who are shipping right-hander Dylan Cease to the National League West. Even though the destination remained somewhat of a mystery until the trade was agreed to, Cease's departure seemed all but certain for quite some time. 

Even though the White Sox still have a few quality bats in their lineup, such as Luis Robert Jr., Eloy Jimenez, and Yoan Moncada, they were not expected to do anything of note this season, and that was with Cease on their roster. Most outlets have projected Chicago to finish in dead last of the American League Central, which is a pretty bold statement considering the state of the division right now. This is not a good division, and it has not been for quite some time. Being considered the worst team in one of the least impressive divisions in the sport is saying something.

Now that Cease is out of the picture, the White Sox have definitely pushed their competitive timeline back. This trade coming right now, ahead of a season that is expected to be a long one in Chicago, could have quite the ripple effect. It would not be surprising to see the White Sox further dismantle their roster, as a high volume of losses are expected to accumulate fairly early. While this does seem like good news right now for the Guardians, it could be equally as bad.

The Guardians should (hopefully) stack up wins in their matchups with the White Sox this season. The problem is that the rest of the division should be able to as well. This is going to result in the AL Central being a jumbled mess pretty early on, and it may make it a bit difficult for the true fringe teams to determine which direction they are headed in (Cleveland could be included in this group). It also creates a problem beyond this season, as the Guardians are working toward being competitive again, but their best days are ahead of them, and that presents a problem.

With the White Sox pushing back their competitive timeline, it is going to conflict with Cleveland's at some point down the line. Even though it will not be immediate, there is a good chance that Chicago will be creating problems for the Guardians much sooner than anyone would prefer. That is unless they decide to go full tank mode and trade away anyone of value, which is still a prospect that is on the table. But as things stand currently and with what appears to be a brief roster refresh, the Guardians must take advantage of this little window of opportunity they have in front of them because the White Sox will be back causing problems in the division again before too long.