It has been a long off-season for former Astros star Dallas Keuchel. A very long off-season. The bearded wonder was coming off a very decent year, boasting an ERA of 3.74 after almost reaching the World Series for a second year in a row. Baseball life was great. Then it all just went wrong somewhere.
We’re halfway through April and one of the hottest free agents in the league is still a free agent. Despite woeful performances from the entire pitching staff of the Red Sox and despite the pure existence of Yu Darvish, Dallas Keuchel is still without a ball club. That’s completely insane.
On second thought, maybe not. Dallas Keuchel is a 31 year old Starting Pitcher with 1 World Series title, 4 Golden Gloves and a Cy Young award to his name. Oh, did I mention that Scott Boras is his agent? This guy was never going to settle for any old deal. Keuchel and Boras have all off-season been pretty vocal about the fact that they want a longer deal, presumably hoping this might be the last contract Keuchel ever needs to sign. Back in December 2018, it was still expected that Mr Keuchel would sign something like a 4 year, $80 million deal, securing his and his families futures and then some. Now, in April, Dallas seems to have lowered his demands to a 1 year deal, yet he’s still not wanted.
The simple question is this: why doesn’t anyone want Dallas Keuchel? Simple answer: he’s not that good.
That feels ridiculous to say about a 31 year old with all the aforementioned accolades, but it’s true. Don’t get me wrong, Keuchel is a great pitcher, but he was supposed to be one of the very best pitchers in the AL. All we need to do is to look at Keuchel’s numbers and we see that last season was his second worst – at least numbers wise – since 2013. An ERA of 3.74 is not bad by any means, but it’s also not world class. It’s not even Keuchel class.
Keuchel had a great season in 2017, but his most remarkable year was undeniably back in 2014 when he achieved an ERA of 2.48 with 232 innings pitched. He is never getting back to that point. Neither is he getting back to the point of striking out 200 plus opponents in just around 30 starts.
Does this mean that MLB life is over for Dallas Keuchel? Of course not. Keuchel can still be of use to (maybe) the majority of teams right at this very moment, but he is not going to sign a Kershaw-type deal, which seems to be what he was looking for. Kershaw’s ERA over the last 5 seasons (beginning with 2014) is as follows: 1.77, 2.13, 1.69, 2.31 and 2.73. His WHIP for the same period: 0.86, 0.88, 0.72, 0.95 and 1.04. Those numbers are nothing short of legendary and has earned the future hall of famer a 3 year extension worth $93 million. Those numbers put Keuchel’s demands in a different light.
There is simply no way in hell that Boras can justify around $80 million plus for Keuchel. Keuchel and Kershaw are the same age, but Kershaw has 4 more years of big league experience and Keuchel’s numbers are declining much more drastically. It might not be fair to compare Keuchel to one of the best pitchers in history, sadly for Dallas, Kershaw is the pacesetter, especially when it comes to contracts.
So what now?
Dallas Keuchel might not be the pitcher he used to be, but he’s still unbelievably good and he will play in the MLB this season. Keuchel has lowered his demands, and a deal with the Padres looks imminent. Is a one-year deal in San Diego the right thing for Keuchel and the league, or should someone – let’s say the Mets, Cubs or Red Sox – have trusted that Dallas could get back to his 2014-self? Only time will tell, all we know for sure, is that wherever Keuchel ends up, he needs to put on a show because he will have to do this all again next year.