Opening Day has come and gone, and with April having just started, 2015 American League Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel is still unsigned. Much like another highly-regarded pitcher, former Boston Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel, Keuchel has yet to sign with a new MLB club, but recent reports suggest that the 31-year-old lefty is one of several pitchers whom the San Diego Padres have their eyes on as they seek to upgrade their starting rotation.
Citing a subscriber-only report from Ken Rosenthal and Dennis Lin of The Athletic, Bill Baer of NBC Sports wrote on Sunday that the Padres are still in talks with Keuchel and his agent, Scott Boras. In addition, the team has reportedly been in contact with two other starting pitchers — Trevor Bauer of the Cleveland Indians and Marcus Stroman of the Toronto Blue Jays —as of the first week of the 2019 MLB regular season, which kicked off on Thursday, March 28.
While Baer pointed out that Dallas Keuchel has not been able to match his Cy Young Award-winning performance in the 2015 MLB season, the NBC Sports reporter described his performance over the last three seasons as “solid.” Last season, the two-time All-Star tallied a 12-11 record for the Houston Astros, striking out 153 batters in 204 2/3 innings and finishing the year with a 3.74 ERA, according to Baseball-Reference.
A former seventh-round pick out of the University of Arkansas, Keuchel has spent his entire seven-season MLB career thus far with the Astros and, as Baer noted, could help just about any MLB team upgrade their starting rotation once he finally gets signed. He added that it’s “embarrassing for the sport” that Keuchel and Kimbrel, despite their proven track records in the majors, have yet to find new MLB homes less than one week into the new season.
Rumors of the San Diego Padres showing interest in Keuchel have been swirling since late February when outfielder Bryce Harper was still the hottest unsigned free agent and less than a week away from his eventual decision to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies. As previously reported by Sports Illustrated, The Athletic’s Rosenthal wrote that the Padres were “more focused” on Keuchel than they were on Harper, despite the perception that he would be a “long shot” to sign with San Diego. It was also mentioned that the Padres were also looking at other pitchers to bolster their rotation ahead of the 2019 MLB season.
As of this writing, the Padres stand out for having an extremely youthful starting rotation, with the team’s five starters having an average age of 24 years and 216 days, and Eric Lauer becoming the second-youngest Opening Day starter in club history at just 23-years-old, as noted by ABC 7 News.