The Astros and reigning AL Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel have not discussed a contract extension this winter, agent Darek Braunecker tells MLB Network Radio (via Twitter). The two sides have talked about a new deal in the past, but that apparently hasn’t taken place in the last couple of months.
“At this point, we have not engaged the club in any sort of long-term discussions. It’s common knowledge that we had some discussion during the season last year and it was just preliminary seeing where one another stood. They approached us, kicked the tires, and got a sense where both parties were at that time,” Braunecker said.
The 28-year-old Keuchel was fighting for a rotation spot as recently as Spring Training 2014, but his remarkable transformation into a bona fide ace atop the Houston rotation was completed with a dominant follow-up to a breakout 2014 season. Keuchel led the AL with 232 innings (trailing only Clayton Kershaw’s 232 2/3 innings for the MLB lead) and worked to a pristine 2.48 ERA with 8.4 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 and an AL-best 61.7 percent ground-ball rate.
Keuchel is eligible for arbitration for the first time this offseason and is set for a significant payout in 2016 thanks to his dominant performance in 2015 capped by a Cy Young award. A deal could make sense for both sides, but Keuchel will be demanding a hefty pay day. The hurler is currently slated to hit the open market heading into his age-31 season and the Astros, presumably, would want to lock down at least one of his free agency years. Delaying his free agency by even one year would probably put a five-year max on the free-agent deal Keuchel could secure, as teams rarely guarantee pitchers’ age-37 seasons in long-term deals. Then again, the two sides could conceivably work out a deal that only covers Keuchel’s arbitration years, leaving his potential future free agent fortune unaffected.