4:33pm: Joel Sherman of the New York Post takes a lengthy look at the situation, examining the possible reasons that Keuchel has yet to strike up a deal. As Sherman points out, even the prorated version of the $17.9MM qualifying offer value checks in close to $11.5MM, and few teams have that type of money budgeted this time of year. The Braves, for instance, are “uncomfortable” with that price point, per Sherman, while the Yankees are unlikely to exceed it, George A. King III of the New York Post writes.
Previous struggles from players who waited into the season to sign (e.g. Kendrys Morales, Greg Holland) have created concerns over what to expect from Keuchel. As a result, some clubs would prefer a lower base salary with per-start incentives — similar to the one Gio Gonzalez initially signed with the Yankees in Spring Training — but Keuchel and Boras would obviously prefer a full guarantee. Sherman adds that Keuchel’s camp has floated some multi-year scenarios with an opt-out after the 2019 season, but a straight one-year pact still seems likely.
8:55am: With draft compensation no longer a factor, a signing could come at any time for free agent starter Dallas Keuchel. As always, we’ll be on top of the latest developments in the market here at MLBTR.
We heard yesterday that the Yankees and Braves were among the likeliest possible landing spots for Keuchel, with a few other teams also among those with ongoing interest. Now, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand (via Twitter) takes things a bit further by labeling the New York and Atlanta organizations the favorites for the veteran southpaw.
Another source labels the Yankees the true favorites, Feinsand tweets. Braves beat reporters, meanwhile, have poured cold water on the idea of a move for Keuchel. (Links to Twitter.) It’s impossible to know when and how a signing will come together, but Andy Martino of SNY.tv tweets that there’s a sense resolution could come “relatively soon.”
As things stand, says Feinsand, the Yankees and Braves “are believed to be in the same area with their offers.” No doubt Keuchel and agent Scott Boras are hopeful that one of these or another team will create some separation in the financial department.
There has long been some uncertainty regarding Keuchel’s contractual demands and outlook. There’s little question he has backed down from any opening asking price, but there have been varying indications as to whether he’d accept (or even seek) a contract that wraps up at season’s end. If he’s only looking for a half-year arrangement, Keuchel will surely want it to be for a hefty rate of pay. But he’d assuredly also consider other factors with an eye already on a return to the open market.
Even if the Yanks and Braves are indeed “favorites” at the moment, it’s worth remembering that such a status means relatively little until the ink hits the paper. Other organizations are surely also engaged with Boras — the Cardinals, Rays, Brewers, and Twins have all been cited of late — and all are no doubt also canvassing the early trade market possibilities.