Dallas Keuchel’s market, like that of fellow free agent Craig Kimbrel, figures to accelerate in the coming days now that he’s no longer tied to draft-pick compensation. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweets that the Yankees, Cardinals and Braves are among the favorites to land Keuchel — though as of yesterday, Keuchel and the Yankees were still a ways apart in terms of asking price. Earlier this morning, the Twins were also reported to have had recent talks with Keuchel’s agent, Scott Boras.
The rationale behind the Yankees’ interest in Keuchel isn’t difficult to see. Luis Severino has yet to pitch in 2019, primarily due to a lat strain that will likely sideline him into next month. Both James Paxton and CC Sabathia have spent time on the injured list, and Domingo German figures to be on some type of innings limit after throwing only 94 innings in 2018 between the Majors and minors (and 123 1/3 frames the year prior). Signing Keuchel would come with notable luxury ramifications for the Yankees, who’d pay a 32 percent tax on any dollar spent on him (per Jason Martinez’s luxury projections at Roster Resource).
The Cardinals, too, have seen some rotation issues pop up. Carlos Martinez has been moved to the bullpen after spending the beginning of the season on the injured list, while free-agent-to-be Michael Wacha has also been moved to a relief following an awful start to the year. Rookie Genesis Cabrera is getting his first look at the MLB level, but the Cards are in 1.5 games back in the tightly contested National League Central — a division where the difference between first place and fifth place is a mere span of 6.5 games at the moment.
Keuchel’s shedding of draft pick compensation matters less to the Astros than to others, since they were never in line to forfeit one of their picks to retain him and have known for a while they wouldn’t end up scoring a compensatory pick. But ESPN’s Buster Olney suggests (subscription required) that there may yet be a gap between what Houston is willing to offer and what Keuchel is seeking. The Astros offered Keuchel a one-year deal worth about $15MM early in Spring Training when he was still seeking a multi-year deal, according to Olney. Even though his asking price has come down since that point, he’s still reported to be seeking a one-year deal worth the $17.9MM value of the qualifying offer he rejected last November. Any such sum would be prorated over the course of the remainder of the season.