Doubling on last season’s spending in free agency, the White Sox pushed the chips in once again for 2021 acquiring Lance Lynn from the Texas Rangers:

Many will critique the timing of this trade by both teams. Imagine if the White Sox had Lynn at their disposal in the playoffs last October? Many felt the Rangers return for Lynn missed being maximized at the trade deadline as well. 

Regardless, it’s time to delve into the fantasy ramifications of the trade for each player. Keep in mind league size and volatility of early projections since so many variables remain unknown. Also track which teams remain in sell mode versus franchises buying this winter. This chasm may continue to grow as teams decide how to move forward in regard to finances. 

Lynn to the White Sox

Since the start of the 2019 season, Lynn leads the majors in innings pitched (292.1) while ranking fifth overall in strikeouts (335). Part of his rebirth in Texas occurred when he reduced his reliance on his sinker while increasing usage of his four-seam fastball. Tuck this factoid away when reading about Dunning later on in this article. 

In 2020, Lynn logged 84 innings winning six of his nine decisions with an 89:25 K:BB, 3.32 ERA, 4.08 SIERA and 1.06 WHIP. A late season swoon may depress his fantasy stock in drafts but wins should remain in the offing as he heads to the south side of Chicago. Many will point to his home runs allowed totals (34 the last two years) and his new ballpark. Yes, Lynn’s underlying xHR total of 32, with 15 of the no doubt variety, confirm this chink in the armor. However, at a time when predicting how many starts or innings a starter can accrue in flux, Lynn’s recent durability and strikeout totals may be taken for granted:

During his time in Texas after altering his pitch arsenal, Lynn went 22-14 over 46 starts with a 3.43 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 20.6 strikeouts minus walks percentage. Using a sliding scale of predictors in terms of ERA, Lynn’s SIERA last season of 4.08 resides above his actual number but his 3.26 xERA sits below it. Depending on how one views his 2021 projections, this creates a range of outcomes. Still, from a fantasy standpoint, Lynn remains a solid third starter in fantasy with some upside baked into his price. Before writing Lynn off, peruse his subtle changes and if his swinging strike percentage or ground ball rate bounceback to his 2019 levels, a double digit win season with more than a strikeout per inning and manageable ratios remain within reach without overpaying for his name value. Lynn’s not a sexy pick but there’s something to be said for solid when building a roster. 

Dunning to Texas

Beneath the radar last season, Dane Dunning made his major league debut with the White Sox and won both of his decisions for the White Sox. Over his 34 innings, Dunning recorded a 35:13 K:BB with a 3.97 ERA, 4.33 SIERA and 1.12 WHIP. One wonders if the Rangers will try to adjust Dunning’s arsenal which aligns well with Lynn’s in the upcoming season. Dunning’s most thrown pitch last season, his sinker, like Lynn prior to his arrival in Texas. Here’s Dunning’s arsenal in a limited sample:

  • Sinker - 39.4 percent usage, .285 xBA, 15.3 Whiff percentage, 19.2 Put Away percent

  • Slider - 21.7 percent usage, .118 xBA, 43.5 Whiff percentage, 33.3 Put Away percent

  • 4-Seam Fastball - 21 percent usage, .230 xBA, 34.6 Whiff percentage, 18.8 Put Away percent

  • Change-up - 11 percent usage, .279 xBA, 30.8 Whiff percentage, 20 Put Away percent

Dunning owned a 44.6 ground ball rate with a 20.7 fly ball percentage and 26.1 line drive percent allowed last season in the majors. His 3.73 xERA resided below his actual ERA and formed a nice scale with his 4.33 SIERA. If reports this spring center on Dunning using more fastballs and less sinkers, his strikeout rate may climb in the year ahead. Wins may be tough to come by in a tough division in the midst of a rebuild but Dunning remains a worthy late round flier for the 2021 season. 

Also included in the trade: 

Avery Weems went 5-4 across two Rookie levels in 2019 with a 2.09 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 74:10 K:BB plus an intriguing 2.81 ground out to fly out ratio. 

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