The White Sox continued their active offseason by inking Dallas Keuchel to a three-year deal with a vesting option for a fourth. Let’s check in on some reactions to Chicago’s most recent splash, as well as a look at broader market trends.
- The Sox are still a bit shy of being legitimate contenders, feels ESPN’s David Schoenfield. Between some anticipated regression from Tim Anderson, whose .399 BABIP is not sustainable, and uncertainty among Luis Robert, Nick Madrigal and Nomar Mazara, Chicago’s lineup doesn’t match up with the league’s elite, even if it is rife with upside. In Schoenfield’s estimation, that’s not quite enough to support a rotation that still looks a bit underwhelming. Keuchel and Gio González are reliable but no longer top-of-the-rotation starters, and there’s little in the way of depth beyond those two and ace Lucas Giolito. Skepticism aside, Schoenfield notes there’s little question this will be the most exciting White Sox team in recent memory.
- The Athletic’s James Fegan feels similarly, pointing out that the Sox may not contend until the soon to be 32-year-old Keuchel is firmly on the downside of his career. Nevertheless, Fegan praises the signing as a “declarative moment” for the franchise. Between Keuchel and Yasmani Grandal, the organization is showing “seriousness and urgency about breaking an embarrassing eleven-year playoff drought,” Fegan argues. Keuchel should be a positive in the clubhouse, he feels, and Chicago no doubt needed to add capable arms to a rotation that was the league’s sixth-worst run prevention unit in 2019.
- While the 72-win White Sox have been busy this offseason, playoff teams have actually been the most active in free agency thus far, found Ben Clemens of Fangraphs in a piece which predated the Keuchel signing. 58.6% of free agents worth at least 2 fWAR last season have inked with teams who made the postseason in 2019. (Keuchel’s signing wouldn’t change that figure, as he was worth just 0.8 wins in his abbreviated time with the Braves). If that trend were to hold, it would make for the highest rate of quality free agents flocking to playoff teams in the past twenty years. Grandal, Mike Moustakas and Anthony Rendon are among the notable exceptions. Nevertheless, as Clemens explores more fully, teams looking to defend their postseason berths, not those hoping to unseat recent powerhouses, have been the first to strike in free agency.