MLB Rumors: Dallas Keuchel, Craig Kimbrel Drawing Interest from Twins

Megan ArmstrongCorrespondent IIJune 3, 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

Baseball's best team is interested in signing two of baseball's best pitchers. 

The Minnesota Twins, sitting at an MLB-best 40-18, are looking into signing both Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel, according to the Star Tribune's La Velle E. Neal III:

"The market dried up for both pitchers because teams would have to forfeit a pick if they signed before draft day. Teams also would lose the slot money from their pool of bonus money that's attached to each pick. But those concerns ended late Sunday night, and the Twins have been in discussions with agents for both pitchers."

The 2019 MLB draft begins Monday at 7 p.m. ET, freeing the Twins or any other franchise to pursue the likes of Keuchel and Kimbrel without losing a pick. 

Both pitchers have remained free agents through the first two-plus months of the 2019 season in part because of their lofty contract demands.

However, interest in Keuchel specifically has been picking up as of late due to the MLB draft's arrival. ESPN's Buster Olney also reported on May 28 that Keuchel and his camp are open to a one-year deal:

Buster Olney @Buster_ESPN

As reported during the winter: Initial ask to teams for Dallas Keuchel was 6 or 7 years, $25m to $30m annually. In spring HOU offered choice: 1 year at $15m or 2/$24m. More recently, his camp said to be open to 1-year deal, for prorated annual $ at qualifying offer range. ($18m)

Neal noted that Keuchel's willingness to sign a one-year deal is tied to the expectation that the compensation will be no less than the $17.9 million qualifying offer he declined from the Houston Astros.

Outside of the Twins, Keuchel has been strongly linked to the New York Yankees. On Sunday, MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported that the 31-year-old 2015 Cy Young Award winner has said he would be willing to shave his signature beard should the Yankees sign him. 

Heyman added that, while the Yankees are favorites to add Keuchel to their rotation alongside either Atlanta or St. Louis, the two sides were "apart' on money as of early Monday.

Jon Heyman @JonHeyman

The draft pick attachment goes away first minute Monday, at 12:01 am. So look for Keuchel/Kimbrel to sign after that, maybe not too long after. Hear Yankees/Braves strongly in on DK; Twins, Brewers, Cards, Rays among others. CK market also active. ATL, PHI, MINN, TB, many more.

As for Kimbrel, who at 31 years old has built a resume that makes him arguably the best closer in baseball, Olney gave insight into why teams have been hesitant to bank on the 31-year-old who has built a resume that makes him arguably the best closer in baseball:

"But just about all of the club evaluators who make personnel decisions these days are guilty of recency bias—they don't care how many career saves Kimbrel has or that he led the NL in saves in four straight seasons, ... Instead, just about all of the evaluators who matter will focus on this question: How much can the 2019 versions of Kimbrel and Keuchel help their team's chances for success?


And many teams simply do not look at either pitcher, as accomplished as they are, as being a rock-solid solution with performance success all but guaranteed. Rather, they ... they remember how Kimbrel struggled to throw strikes in the postseason last year. They remember that when the Red Sox had a chance to close out the Dodgers in the World Series, Boston manager Alex Cora went with Chris Sale, rather than Kimbrel, and they wonder what that really meant."

The Twins, however, according to Neal, are thought to be more interested in Kimbrel than Keuchel. 

"The best moves are made not when you're trying to open the window to contend but when the window is wide open," Twins general manager Thad Levine said in January, according to the Star Tribune's Michael Rand. "We're very eagerly waiting for this window to be opened, and when it is, we plan on striking."

As of Monday, the Twins hold the league's sixth-best ERA (3.88) and second-best save percentage (84.21). But to Levine's point, now is the time for the franchise to bet on themselves and widen the gap between them and other contenders heading into the second half of the season.

"Both of them are gonna pitch this year and logically, you have to think, both of them are gonna get signed within the next couple of weeks," ESPN's Tim Kurkjian said in part on Monday evening's edition of SportsCenter

If the Twins don't strike, other teams certainly will.