Free agent pitcher Dallas Keuchel, a two-time All Star who won the American League Cy Young Award in 2015, went unsigned as a free agent over the 2018/2019 Major League Baseball offseason — and Keuchel remains unsigned even as the new MLB season pushes toward its third week. But according to a new report on Saturday, Keuchel may be ready to reduce his asking price to get himself signed and back on the field in 2019, according to veteran reporter Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
“The longer Keuchel waits, the more he will sacrifice in a prorated deal and the longer it will take him to prepare,” Rosenthal said in his report, adding that Keuchel says he has been preparing for the season by throwing 95 pitches in simulated game situations on an every-five-day schedule.
Keuchel — who has won 76 games with 63 losses with a solid 3.66 ERA in seven seasons, all with Houston — had originally been looking for a contract of six or seven years in length, with an annual salary somewhere between $25 million and $30 million, according to MLB Rumors.
But according to Rosenthal’s report, the 31-year-old Tulsa, Oklahoma, native, is now willing to accept a one-year deal — as long as the price tag exceeds the $17.9 million qualifying offer he revived from the Astros, and declined, shortly after the 2018 season ended. Keuchel would also accept a longer-term deal, but at a lower salary than he originally envisioned, according to Rosenthal, as reported by MLB Rumors.
But where would Keuchel sign? Several contending teams have struggled with their starting pitching in the season’s early going. Though their dramatic signing of Bryce Harper, and their acquisition of all-star catcher J.T. Realmuto via trade with the Miami Marlins, per the MLB site, has led them to a 6-2 record, the Philadelphia Phillies pitching has been worrisome.
The Phillies team ERA heading into Sunday’s MLB slate ranked seventh the National League at 4.35, per Baseball Reference stats. Ace Aaron Nola has also struggled, taking a six-run shelling over just three innings against the Washington Nationals in his most recent outing on the mound.
The New York Mets, despite a stellar start to the season by their ace Jacob deGrom — who has yet to allow a run in 13 innings over two starts, per BR — are also looking to strengthen the remainder of their rotation.
In fact, the Mets have remained in “continued contact” with Keuchel, according to an SNY report.
Signing deGrom to a contract extension has freed up another $10 million in salary space for the Mets, who opened the season with a payroll of $159 million — still $47 million below the “luxury tax” threshold, according to Spotrac numbers, giving New York plenty off flexibility to ink Keuchel to a one-year deal, if rumors that he would now accept one are accurate.