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Twins Blogosphere


Still Free: LHP Dallas Keuchel

After Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and Craig Kimbrel, Dallas Keuchel was arguably the top free agent on the market after the 2018 season. The 31-year-old left-hander certainly assumed that he would be signed and making spring starts by now. He likely assumed he would have a four or five year contract for $80-100 million. Instead, he remains on the sidelines, waiting for a team to meet his likely much-reduced contract expectations.
Image courtesy of © Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Should the Twins be interested in signing free agent lefty Dallas Keuchel? What factors should go into that decision?

What Should The Front Office Like

When healthy, innings pitched:

Three times in the last five years, Keuchel has made at least 29 starts and threw at least 200 innings.

Control/Command:

Keuchel has pitched in seven major-league seasons. He has typically not hurt himself by issuing walks. In his past six seasons, he has walked no more than 3.0 batters per nine innings and averaged just 2.5 walks per nine innings.

2015 Cy Young

In 2015, Keuchel went 20-8 with a 2.48 ERA. He received 22 of the 30 first-place votes for AL Cy Young Award. He also pitched in a career-high 232 innings.

Four Gold Gloves

Keuchel also fields his position well. He has been awarded the American League Gold Glove in four of the last five seasons. Jose Berrios and Kyle Gibson are both very good athletes who field their position well.

What Should Scare The Front Office

Already 31

Keuchel turned 31 years old on January 1st. On its own, that is not a big deal. However, it would certainly be a deterrent to a four or five year deal.

Lack of Velocity

Keuchel rarely touches 90 mph with his fastball. But as you can see from the chart below, it’s not like his velocity has diminished. He has never thrown hard.



Health

I have already and will again write the all-important phrase “if healthy.” That’s obviously an unknown and can’t be predicted with exact science (yet?). But Keuchel has had a variety of issues physically. He acknowledged after the 2016 season that he fought shoulder pain the whole year. He had a minor foot injury that cost him some time. He also had a neck injury.

Draft Pick Compensation

The Astros made a Qualifying Offer to Keuchel, so the team that signs him will have to give up a draft pick.


What Signing Him Would Do For the Twins

There is little question that, assuming Keuchel is healthy, he would improve the Twins rotation. Essentially Keuchel would take a spot in the Twins rotation and either Martin Perez or Michael Pineda would be moved to the bullpen.

That’s not to say that Keuchel would fit in as the Twins fifth starter. But I also think it’s important to realize that he is not an ace, by any means. He would be a 2/3 in the Twins rotation. His 2018 numbers were very similar to those of Kyle Gibson. Again, assuming health, that would give the Twins a pretty solid 1-2-3 in their rotation for a potential playoff rotation with Odorizzi, Pineda and Perez (and all that minor league depth) getting their opportunities.


Length of Ideal Contract

To be honest, I would prefer a one-year deal between the Twins and Keuchel. Frankly, the (lack of) velocity scares me. If he loses another tick or two in velocity or if he loses even a little bit of command, his productivity could drop dramatically, and quickly.

However, if he’s going to sign just a one-year deal, why wouldn’t he return to the Astros? Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole are their top two starters. They added Wade Miley this offseason via free agency. Top prospect Forrest Whitley is likely close. Lance McCullers will miss the full season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Collin McHugh and Brad Peacock could return to their rotation as well.

Would you be willing to give Keuchel a second year? I probably would, especially because the Twins don’t have a lot of funds tied up on 2020 yet. But a third year? No, thank you. And a fourth year? Just no.


Why Might Keuchel Have Interest in the Twins

Keuchel has won and experienced a lot of success. He will want to be part of a team that has a chance to compete for a playoff spot. The Twins certainly fit that category. Keuchel certainly has seen the moves that the Twins have made this offseason. They added Nelson Cruz, Jonathan Schoop, CJ Cron and Keuchel’s long-time teammate Marwin Gonzalez. The lineup also includes several mid-20s players who he knows have the potential to add even more offense.

Keuchel’s best years came with Jason Castro as his catcher in Houston. He also has to look at the Twins outfield and know that hits turn into outs, especially when Byron Buxton is out there.

Like Marwin Gonzalez, Dallas Keuchel is represented by Scott Boras. Boras and the Twins front office seem to have a solid working relationship, and top prospects Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff are also Boras clients.


What Would be a Reasonable Offer at this Point

So, with all of that in mind, I think the following offers would be fair:

Ideally, I would prefer a one-year, make-good contract. One year, $16 million.

I would guess that Boras and Keuchel would like to get a second guaranteed season (and probably a third and fourth too), again, similar to the Gonzalez contract. So how about Two Years, $30 million deal?


Summary

As you read earlier in the week, LaVelle Neal wrote that the Twins will not sign Keuchel (or Kimbrel) unless something drastic changes. There are enough red flags around Keuchel that the Twins (and clearly most MLB teams) have shied away. Personally, I agree with that assessment.

For a guy who rarely touches 90 mph with his fastball, Dallas Keuchel has put together a really strong free agent resume with his work in Houston the past six seasons. However, some of his peripheral numbers, understandably, could give teams reason for pause. Clearly they have.

The Twins are currently about $12 million below where they started the 2018 season, so the proposed deals above would put them just over those numbers.

The front office has to ask themselves which they prefer:
  • A 31 year old lefty with no velocity but a great track record of success.
  • A 27 year old lefty who is hitting 95-97 mph this spring but whose numbers have never matched his stuff.
Note that if the Twins signed Keuchel, Perez wouldn’t be lost, just moved to the bullpen.

What makes sense to you?

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54 Comments

People keep pointing to his lack of velocity as a red flag, but for a savvy veteran pitcher who can still get people out, that shouldn'tbe a huge concern. I'd be more worried about a multi-year deal that ends up costing the team a bunch of money. Even a 1-year deal seems like a gamble for the sort of money he wants. What about a much cheaper option, someone like Edwin Jackson, who had a nice bounce-back year with Oakland in 2018?

I am content with what we have.Watching Keuchel in recent years I keep thinking he is performing above his talent and that always catches up.We have a full rotation in MLB and another full rotation in the pen and the minors waiting for a chance.I would not do it and obviously a lot of teams are seeing what I see. 

    • Jerr, DiscGolfer, PseudoSABR and 3 others like this
How is this different than Lance Lynn last off-season? Keuchel entered the market anticipating a long term deal and he's most likely on the sidelines mad it hasn't happened.

Falvine specifically said this offseason they want to avoid making the same mistakes last year, signing players late in ST that didn't get the long term deal they were hoping for.
    • nicksaviking, 70charger, Blackjack and 6 others like this
Keuchel is an elite groundball pitcher. More than twice as many GBs as Odorizzi last year. The infield defense not being a great fit is worth mentioning.
    • Jerr, nicksaviking, Dantes929 and 6 others like this

Had a mini heart attack. Thought they signed him when the front page pulled up.

    • Jerr and gil4 like this

 

I am content with what we have.Watching Keuchel in recent years I keep thinking he is performing above his talent and that always catches up.We have a full rotation in MLB and another full rotation in the pen and the minors waiting for a chance.I would not do it and obviously a lot of teams are seeing what I see. 

I thought the same aboutMaddux, Moyer, Glavine Buehrle, Colon and Sabbathia and you are right. It caught up with them and most of them are not even in the league anymore. 4 very good years out of the last 5 and in the American League is not luck.Velocity is great but run prevention is more important than any other attribute. He had 20 quality starts last year out of 34 games.Berrios was 17 of 32.Gibson was 18 of 32. I would definitely take him over Perez. I am ok if we pass on him but its not like the Twins have a history of saving money one year so they can spend more the next.Bottom line is would you rather have Keuchel or not. If you would rather have him then what else are the Twins going to do with their money? One or two year deal is not going to ham string them.I thought Lynn was a good move last year and many thought the same. I don't call them mistakes just because time says they didn't work out. It should have worked out.Sometimes it is just on the players to perform. Lynn not working out wasn't on the Twins. It was on Lynn.

    • Mike Sixel, Oldgoat_MN, mikelink45 and 4 others like this

I'd rather see the Twins sign Kimbrell if they are going to spend more money. A bullpen with Rogers and May in high leverage situations and Kimbrell as closer would be solid. Maybe I'm biased but I hate watching close games slip away in the late innings.

    • nicksaviking, beckmt, PseudoSABR and 7 others like this
I’d be ok with the twins signing him for 2 or 3 years, because I don’t think you can have too much good pitching, and Keuchel has a fairly deep history of good pitching.

I wouldn’t do a 4 year (or more) deal because I think more years equals more risk than I am comfortable with. I wouldn’t want a 1 year deal because I don’t think it makes sense to give up a draft pick for a single year of value.
    • gunnarthor and Oldgoat_MN like this

I look at the construction of the Cleveland rotation as the model that I think the Twins will follow.Youger pitchers with high upside "potential" that they think they can turn into cheap bargin members of a strong rotation.

 

I don't see Keuchel in that category. He has already past his peak. They probably can't squeeze more out of him, if even he has a good-faircouple of years left, and is at his earnings peak. 

    • nicksaviking, Danchat, mikelink45 and 1 other like this

I'm not a fan of giving up a draft pick for a short term deal.

    • bighat and bobs like this
We have to remember last year payroll was higher do to 50 million windfall from sale of bamtech. So we may be tapped out at this point. But I think a 3 year 51 million with option for 4th year is fine. If we can get him cheaper than do it.

I give this a big fat maybe:Maybe, just maybe if it was a one-year deal with a club option for a second.And I'm sure the Keuchel camp wouldn't go for it.

 

I had to laugh about the phrase that the Twins have a "solid" relationship with Boras.Does that mean he buys us dinner first?

    • Dantes929 and bighat like this

I'm not satisfied with either the rotation or the bullpen and signing a free agent startercould help on both fronts. I'm not sure Keuchel is that guy .That infield is made for a strikeout fly-out pitcher.

Jake Arrieta might be a good comparable here and I suspect that Keuchel expects a similar deal with the one Arrieta got last season (3/$75+2 options at $22.5 each...)

 

He would not settle for Lance Lynn money :) 

    • Mike Sixel, beckmt, twinssporto and 3 others like this
The longer it takes to sign him the less Spring Training he has.
    • Mike Sixel and Sconnie like this
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Thebigalguy
Mar 07 2019 10:57 AM

 

I thought the same aboutMaddux, Moyer, Glavine Buehrle, Colon and Sabbathia and you are right. It caught up with them and most of them are not even in the league anymore. 4 very good years out of the last 5 and in the American League is not luck.Velocity is great but run prevention is more important than any other attribute. He had 20 quality starts last year out of 34 games.Berrios was 17 of 32.Gibson was 18 of 32. I would definitely take him over Perez. I am ok if we pass on him but its not like the Twins have a history of saving money one year so they can spend more the next.Bottom line is would you rather have Keuchel or not. If you would rather have him then what else are the Twins going to do with their money? One or two year deal is not going to ham string them.I thought Lynn was a good move last year and many thought the same. I don't call them mistakes just because time says they didn't work out. It should have worked out.Sometimes it is just on the players to perform. Lynn not working out wasn't on the Twins. It was on Lynn.

Maddux? Greg Maddux? He was very effective, 15+ wins a year, until he was 40. Age caught up with him only then.  If I thought that in Keuchel we were getting Maddux, I'd tell Falvine to grab a ballpoint pen (oh, excuse me, a Montblanc Classique) and get his signature on the dotted line for a five year deal. But he's not Maddux, who was indestructible. Otherwise, I agree with your analysis: a one-or-two year deal could work out if we don't have the horsepower among our younger staff. I'm optimistic about the season and expect the starting pitching, with or without this guy, to be decent. It's the relief I'm anxious about. Play ball!

    • mikelink45, DocBauer, MN_ExPat and 1 other like this
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Kelly Vance
Mar 07 2019 11:24 AM

I'd pass. Spend money extending our core guys. 

    • mikelink45 and caninatl04 like this
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TwerkTwonkTwins
Mar 07 2019 11:36 AM

Sign him, but make him stay in extended Spring Training until May. Most pitchers who signed in March last year had terrible years. 

An injury or under performance is more likely than not to occur in April. Replacing Perez might not be a factor by time Keuchel is up to speed. 

    • ChrisKnutson and Shaitan like this
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sampleSizeOfOne
Mar 07 2019 11:40 AM
Oh...

The head line about him being free just meant he is available. Not that he will sign for $0.

Carry on. Don't mind me.

I am interested to hear what we give up by signing him... Which draft pick was it? Money attached? And who gets designated for assignment?

If that is more than we get out of him, i expect i won't find out the answers...
    • ashbury and MN_ExPat like this
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IndianaTwin
Mar 07 2019 11:43 AM

 

....


The Twins are currently about $12 million below where they started the 2018 season, so the proposed deals above would put them just over those numbers.

....

 

 

If they are that close to last year's payroll, I don't see him or Kimbrel happening. What I could still see is using $12 million to get a half-season of guys with $24 million in contracts if they are in the running in June/July. 

 

I understanding people saying, "Why not get a whole season's worth of a guy, rather than just a few months of a rental," but a real advantage of rentals is that it gives you the opportunity to see what the present need is. What if Pineda and Perez do pan out, but Sano doesn't come back and Marwin or Polanco blows out a knee and they are three games out on July 4? At that point, having budget to rent Anthony Rendon is probably more helpful than the extra starts of slight upgrade from Perez to Keuchel. Plus, with a rental, they actually PICK UP a draft pick with a QO next winter rather than losing one this year.

    • Dakota Diver likes this
I remember seeing recently that one writer said that other teams were tepid based on lack of the Astros enthusiasm for re-signing him as if he may have ...
    • Sconnie likes this

I know he has draft pick compensation tied to him but isn't there a dollar limit he has to sign for?I thought I remember seeing that last year someone (possibly Chatwood) could have signed for something like $48 million and the signing team didn't have to give up as high of a pick?Maybe I am not remembering that right. 

If we signed Kuechel, we could put him on the DL and he can spend up to 20 days on rehab. This gives him the extra reps he needs and he could be ready by the time we need a 5th starter. I think the main idea is do you think we have enough depth to handle 2 or 3 injuries in the rotation at the same time. Currently our 6th starter seems solid to me, Mejia. Next we are looking at Stewart, Gonsalvez, Littell, Thorpe, DeJong, and others.... Do you see anyone or two in the group you are comfortable giving 4 to 10 starts to? If so then we only need to sign Kimbral. If not then we should look at another starter. Though I think Gio Gonzales would be a cheaper option with a similar results to Kuechel.

A one-year deal, with the option of flipping him if the Twins don't compete in 2019.

 

But doing so, you lose a draft pick. You also lose one (or both) of Perez and Mejia. Often we forget that a signing means someone goes from the roster. Also, signing him now would also mean opening a roster spot. Who does go with that move.

 

Tyler Austin on that much of a bubble?

 

Is he actually a better choice for a longterm deal (yes, he throws lefthanded) than, say, signing Kyle Gibson for the same number of years and/or amount?

 

How hurt is anyone that spring training has begun? The Twins got burned last year from slow starts of Lynn and Morison, so I picture the front office going with what they have, unless we do have any serious injury concerns.

 

 

 

Maddux? Greg Maddux? He was very effective, 15+ wins a year, until he was 40. Age caught up with him only then.  If I thought that in Keuchel we were getting Maddux, I'd tell Falvine to grab a ballpoint pen (oh, excuse me, a Montblanc Classique) and get his signature on the dotted line for a five year deal. But he's not Maddux, who was indestructible. Otherwise, I agree with your analysis: a one-or-two year deal could work out if we don't have the horsepower among our younger staff. I'm optimistic about the season and expect the starting pitching, with or without this guy, to be decent. It's the relief I'm anxious about. Play ball!

Big fan of Maddux just like I was of all the guys listed. They knew how to pitch even when their velocity took a dip.Maddux strikeout rate was well below Keuchel.The original quote was that Keuchel outperformed his ability for a number of years and that it would catch up with him. My point was that if he does it for a number of years then he is not outperforming his ability. He is simply a good pitcher. He doesn't even have to reinvent himself like some of those other guys. He has always had mediocre velocity. I was being a little snarky by saying outperforming ability caught up with them. It caught up with them after many years of success and mostly when they were into their 40's. 

    • Kelly Vance, Don Walcott and Miggy's Little Helper like this

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