MLB Rumors: Braves Monitoring Dallas Keuchel, Other SPs on Free-Agent Market

Megan ArmstrongContributor IIIMarch 15, 2019

Houston Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel watches in the second inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers in Detroit, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Paul Sancya/Associated Press

Former Houston Astros starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel has gone to California—but only to keep in shape at his agent Scott Boras' training facility until a team signs him off the free-agent market. 

According to Jon Paul Morosi of MLB Network, the Atlanta Braves are considering Keuchel: 

"One source said the Braves have continued to monitor the market for Keuchel and other starting pitchers, but the team is wary of surrendering the draft pick required to sign Keuchel. Atlanta's rotation faces some uncertainty, given that Mike Foltynewicz will be unavailable to start the season due to an elbow injury."

Keuchel won the American League Cy Young Award following a dominant 2015 season. Since then, Keuchel has been up and down—posting a 4.55 ERA in 2016, 2.90 in 2017 and 3.74 last season. Keuchel turned 31 in January.

Boras said, per Morosi, "a couple teams have sent representatives to watch Keuchel pitch in California and speak with the southpaw in person." Morosi noted that Boras disclosed Keuchel is receiving offers but wouldn't specify further. 

Jon Tayler of Sports Illustrated outlined why Keuchel should be concerned about his delayed free agency: 

"You can argue that, in today's MLB, a long-term deal for a 31-year-old who doesn't throw hard or strike batters out is a poor investment. But while it's unlikely that Keuchel is going to age particularly well, he remains a boost for most pitching staffs this year and probably 2020 as well.

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"The problem is that with so much of the league simply not trying, good teams have little incentive to pay for upgrades that lead to the marginal wins normally necessary to secure playoff spots. ... It's not as if Keuchel can start his own league. Either he buckles and takes short-term offers, or he holds out indefinitely."

Keuchel does have one source for optimism within Boras' client list, as pitcher Kyle Lohse held out until the March 25, 2013, before the Milwaukee Brewers signed him to a three-year, $33 million contract. Lohse was 34 years old. Boras likened Keuchel to Lohse while speaking to Morosi. 

The problem, though, is Keuchel is reportedly seeking a five-year pact—or at least he was in December when the Philadelphia Phillies were still pursuing him. 

Per The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal, Keuchel turned down a five-year, $90 million extension offer from the Astros following his Cy Young season. Houston also extended Keuchel a $17.9 million qualifying offer following last season in November, but he declined it. 

As March drones on, something has to give.