MLB Rumors: Teams 'Leery' Craig Kimbrel, Dallas Keuchel Will Be Ready by July

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJune 2, 2019

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 26: Craig Kimbrel #46 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after retiring the side in the ninth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game Three of the 2018 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 26, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

MLB teams are reportedly "leery" that Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel will be available to pitch in major league action before July, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.  

Kimbrel and Keuchel have gone unsigned thus far this season in a pair of the strangest free-agency-gone-wrong stories in recent memory. Both entered the winter with expectations of huge contracts only to find a tepid market that dragged into the regular season.

Both will become fully unrestricted free agents June 3. They previously had draft-pick compensation tied to their signings as a result of declining qualifying offers.

Keuchel, 31, won the 2015 AL Cy Young Award and is a two-time All-Star. He's also avoided major injuries throughout his career and posted a 12-11 record with a 3.74 ERA and 1.31 WHIP in 2018.

In an era where strikeout-heavy pitchers are desired over contact guys, Keuchel lacks a little in that area and is more dependent on his defense. Keuchel has a career K/9 average of 7.2, which ranks him well below most elite aces.

Keuchel opened up on his free agency to Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports last month:

"If you would've asked me on the first day of free agency, I would have said no way I'd be here on May 6. This was not the plan at all. I would love to be out there playing ball and helping a team win.

"Because, to my career at this point, I've done more winning than I have losing and at a much higher clip. So what team wouldn't want me to be out there? Am I the best at this point in time? No. But am I more than or better than some of the offers I've been given? Absolutely. That's not me being greedy. That's just my compensation in the market from what the analytical data is telling me. I didn't come up with this. The front offices came up with this. So now they're trying to tell me I'm less than what the analytical data is saying. How is that possible?"

Kimbrel, 31, is statistically one of the greatest closers in MLB history. He's saved 333 games and blown only 34 during his nine-year career; he is already 14th on the all-time career saves list. His 90.7 save percentage is better than Mariano Rivera (89.1).

The continued free agency of Kimbrel largely comes down to team hesitance to give a closer a long-term contract. Kimbrel also showed some slight slippage during his tenure with the Boston Red Sox in peripheral stats despite making the All-Star team each of those three seasons.