Report: Ex-Brave Dallas Keuchel Agrees to 3-Year, $55.5M Contract with White Sox

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistDecember 22, 2019

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel works against the Washington Nationals during the first inning of a baseball game Friday, Sept. 6, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
John Bazemore/Associated Press

Dallas Keuchel did not have to wait around in free agency nearly as long this time around, as he agreed to a contract with the Chicago White Sox on Saturday, according to Jeff Passan of ESPN.

Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported Keuchel's deal will be worth $55.5 million over three years, with a vesting option that could push the total value up to $74 million:

The southpaw found himself in free-agent purgatory last offseason upon declining a qualifying offer from the Houston Astros. He did not find a home until June, when draft-pick compensation would no longer be tied to his signing.

He ultimately settled for a prorated one-year, $13 million deal with the Atlanta Braves.

It turned out to be a quality signing for Atlanta. Keuchel helped the team capture its second consecutive National League East title, going 8-8 with a 3.75 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP while striking out 91 batters in 112.2 innings. He allowed more than two earned runs in a start only twice in his final nine regular-season outings.

He gave his team a chance to win in each of his two postseason starts against the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Division Series. He allowed one run in 4.2 innings in Game 1 and three runs in 3.1 innings in Game 4, receiving no-decisions each time. However, the Braves dropped both games en route to a five-game exit.

The 31-year-old may not be the same dominant pitcher he was when he won the 2015 American League Cy Young Award. However, he went 14-5 with a 2.90 ERA only two years ago. And over the course of the past two seasons, he has continued to be a dependable arm.

After last offseason's prolonged saga, Keuchel questioned the system to ESPN's Jesse Rogers in October:

"This is whole draft-pick compensation thing went from a throw-in for a team losing a player to is he really a free agent now? How can you be free if there is a draft pick attached to you? And why do they value draft picks so much when the percentage of picks who make the league, and are better than you, is what, like .01 percent? There are so many things wrong."

Fortunately for Keuchel, Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement prohibits players from receiving a qualifying offer more than once. As a result, landing a contract proved to be far more manageable this winter.

With Stephen Strasburg, Gerrit Cole and Madison Bumgarner all signing during the first half of December, Keuchel found himself among the most coveted arms on the market as the offseason progressed. Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reported in mid-December that Chicago was one of several teams interested in the former Brave, along with the Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Angels, San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals.

In the end, though, the White Sox got a deal done.

It's just the latest move in what has been a busy offseason in the Windy City. Chicago had already signed two-time All-Star catcher Yasmani Grandal and two-time All-Star pitcher Gio Gonzalez. Signing Keuchel may have been the biggest splash yet.

The White Sox's rotation ranked 24th in the majors this past season. Of the six pitchers who made at least 10 starts, only one (Lucas Giolito) finished with a sub-4.00 ERA. 

The addition of Gonzalez and Keuchel provides quality depth alongside Giolito. As a result, the team is putting itself in position to potentially snap an 11-year playoff drought.

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