By: Chris Larson
Outside of the MLB Amateur Draft that happened yesterday afternoon, the other biggest storyline that opened up this week was the Free Agency 2.0 version for Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel. At the stroke of midnight yesterday morning, both free agents were no longer tied to draft pick compensation, which led many to believe that a signing should be coming sooner than later for both.
However, to this point, there has been practically white noise coming from each camp and while none of us know if there are actual negotiations taking place behind the scenes, it can be assumed that teams have called both camps inquiring to see where things are at in the process. Some of those negotiations will hit a brick wall from the get go, while others will carry on for a while and could eventually result in one of the two aforementioned names finding a new home.
With that being said, there are plenty of fits for both Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel around baseball, but there are certain teams that stand out moreso than others. For this discussion, we'll be focusing on the market for Dallas Keuchel and attempt to pinpoint who should try to sign him right now. Here are 5 immediate fits:
1. New York Yankees - As of this morning, it was being reported that the New York Yankees were the favorites to land Dallas Keuchel and while that may or may not be true, it cannot be denied that they would benefit from bolstering their starting rotation with someone of Keuchel's caliber. As things stand right now, the Yankees would rely on left-hander, J.A. Happ, during Game 3 of a playoff series which is sort of a toss in the bucket. The Yankees front office would likely prefer having someone durable such as, Dallas Keuchel, start that game instead and with lefty, James Paxton on the shelf, New York would benefit from having another look within their starting rotation. The only thing standing between the Yankees and Dallas Keuchel is an agreement that Dallas will shave his beard, something that has been his trademark, ever since he debuted in the big leagues.
2. Atlanta Braves - Outside of the New York Yankees, the Atlanta Braves have been reported to be another favorite and it makes a lot of sense. Going into play tonight, the Braves currently sit a 1/2 game back of the Philadelphia Phillies for first place with the New York Mets 4 and 1/2 games back in third place and the Washington Nationals 6 and 1/2 games back in fourth. With the National League East this season, nothing is guaranteed and that's a significant reason why the Atlanta Braves need to do everything they can to bolster the teams chances of not only winning the division again, but playing deep into October. One of the steps to get there is to add another veteran arm to a starting rotation, that is composed primarily of youngsters, and rely on that arm down the stretch. Dallas Keuchel is the guy and someone who can easily lead the Braves to the promise land.
3. Minnesota Twins - Much of the Minnesota Twins success so far this season has come from an offensive perspective, but their pitching staff has been very reliable as well. However, that's not to say that some of those pitchers won't hit a road block as the season continues to progress forward or continue to put up such brilliant numbers. Right now, the Twins have a very good duo in Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi at the top of their starting rotation, but if they could insert Dallas Keuchel right behind there, it would only set them up for success in what looks like an increasingly likely October run. Furthermore, one of the most common pitches in Dallas Keuchel's pitch repertoire is his slider and heading into play today, the Twins currently rank 24th in baseball with an overall slider rate of (13.6%). That means that they could surely use another pitcher that throws a slider and has the deception that Keuchel has, as they navigate their way to an, American League Central Championship.
4. Colorado Rockies - The Colorado Rockies started this season off in a disappointing fashion, but have really turned the heat up as of late and have an 8-game win streak heading into play today. While they have had lots of recent success and Jon Gray has reverted back to the guy he was in 2017, they still have question marks within their starting rotation and are always on the look out for another groundball pitcher. Dallas Keuchel fits the bill on both of those needs and would give Colorado an experienced veteran to put at the top of their rotation. Dating back to the 2016 regular season, Keuchel ranks fourth among qualified starting pitchers with an overall groundball rate of (58.0%), meaning this is one marriage that is bound to be successful. Beyond that, the Rockies could use another workhorse starting pitcher in their rotation and someone that can help the team eat innings. As of today, the Colorado Rockies rank thirteenth in the baseball in innings pitched (320.0), despite the rotation putting up mediocre results (5.54 ERA).
5. Chicago White Sox - Going into this season, many would have speculated that the Chicago White Sox would be a team that would be on the outside looking in at this point of the season or at least playing a lot worse than they have been. However, that has certainly not been the case, as the White Sox head into play today with a 29-30 record and sit 2 games back of the second American League Wild Card spot. None of us truly know how the White Sox view themselves or if they even plan on contending potentially this season, but it sure doesn't look like they'll be sellers on the outside and that's why a case could be made for Dallas Keuchel. If the White Sox really want to make the postseason and show their fanbase that this rebuild is heading in a positive direction, then they will need to make additions between now and the July 31st Trade Deadline. By adding Keuchel to that starting rotation, they would have a veteran arm that could start that Wild Card game and someone to pair with the young, emerging, Lucas Giolito, in the event that they advance from that one game play-in.