Dallas Keuchel Rumors: Braves Favorites to Sign Free-Agent SP; Yankees in Mix

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJune 6, 2019

Houston Astros starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel (60) throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers, Tuesday, July 3, 2018, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)
Brandon Wade/Associated Press

The Atlanta Braves "have emerged as front-runners" to sign free-agent starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel, according to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.

Feinsand reported the New York Yankees are still in the hunt to sign the 2015 American League Cy Young winner.

The Keuchel sweepstakes heated up with the start of the 2019 MLB draft on Monday. The team that lands the left-hander won't have to forfeit a draft pick, which they would have had to before the event.

SNY's Andy Martino reported Thursday the St. Louis Cardinals and Minnesota Twins—along with the Yankees and Braves—were showing interest in Keuchel.

On Wednesday, The Athletic's David O'Brien gave the impression the Braves were well back in the race for Keuchel, reporting Atlanta's interest was "overstated" and that the Braves "weren't deep in negotiations like Yankees."

Some fans were likely frustrated Atlanta failed to sign Craig Kimbrel to improve a bullpen that has been an issue all season. ESPN.com's Jeff Passan reported the Chicago Cubs agreed to a three-year, $43 million deal with the All-Star closer Wednesday.

Perhaps Keuchel was the Braves' preferred target. They'd certainly benefit from strengthening their starting rotation.

According to FanGraphs, Atlanta's starters are 18th in FIP (4.60) and 27th in walks (3.87 per nine innings). At some point the team has to address its pitching staff, and signing Keuchel would be the easiest way to do that, even if he needs a few weeks to fully prepare himself for major league action.