July 21: The Diamondbacks have announced their slate of roster moves, with Keuchel being designated for assignment. His active roster spot will go to right-hander Ian Kennedy, who has been reinstated from the 15-day injured list. With the open spot on the 40-man roster, righty J.B. Bukauskas has been reinstated from the 60-day IL and optioned to Triple-A.
It’s the second DFA of the season for Keuchel, who was cut loose by the White Sox earlier this year while playing out the third and final season of a three-year, $55.5MM contract. The former AL Cy Young winner posted a pristine 1.99 ERA in 11 starts with the ChiSox during the shortened 2020 season but logged a lackluster 5.28 ERA in 30 starts a year ago before taking another step back in 2022.
Keuchel was rocked for a 7.88 ERA with the Sox, tallying just 32 innings despite making eight starts. The D-backs brought him in on a minor league deal after he cleared waivers and became a free agent, hoping that a reunion with former Astros pitching coach Brent Strom — now the pitching coach in Arizona — might help Keuchel tap into some of his prior success. That, however, hasn’t proven to be the case. Keuchel somewhat remarkably struggled even more with the Snakes, yielding 22 runs (20 earned) in just 18 2/3 frames before today’s DFA.
To Keuchel’s credit, he did post markedly improved strikeout and walk rates in Arizona. After posting identical 12.2% strikeout and walk rates in Chicago — both among the worst marks in the league for starters — he turned in a 20.2% strikeout rate against a 7.9% walk rate with the D-backs. The strikeout rate is still below average, but that walk rate is solid, and Keuchel can still induce grounders at an above-average rate (albeit nowhere near his peak rate when he was perennially among the league leaders).
Whether that’s enough for another club to take a look remains to be seen. Keuchel will be placed on waivers within the week and will surely clear a second time and again become a free agent. He’ll likely settle for a minor league deal wherever he lands next.