Keuchel is projected to earn $12.6MM via arbitration next year, which could be his last season with the organization that used a seventh-round pick on him in 2009. Now 29, Keuchel blossomed into one of the game’s premier starters in 2014 and went on to earn the American League Cy Young Award the next season. Keuchel was a 200-plus-inning workhorse in each of those two seasons, but injuries limited him to a combined 313 2/3 frames from 2016-17.
While Keuchel struggled in 2016, he returned to his front-line ways last season (albeit over just 145 2/3 innings), with a 2.90 ERA, 7.72 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and a major league-best 66.8 percent groundball rate. Keuchel’s regular-season output helped the Astros rack up 101 wins and roll to an AL West title, and he was also an instrumental member of the team’s first-ever championship-winning run in October. Keuchel was at his best in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, firing seven scoreless, 10-strikeout innings in a win over the Yankees, whom the Astros ultimately defeated in seven games.
In the midst of the Astros-Yankees series, Keuchel said that his hope is to remain in Houston for the long haul. It’s unclear whether there has been progress toward that goal, though, and it’s obvious that the Astros are going to have to fork over a significant contract in the coming year if they’re serious about extending Keuchel before he reaches the market next winter. As of now, Boras’ newest high-profile client is on track to be a key part of a class that could feature a slew of other stars, including fellow lefty Clayton Kershaw.