July 25: Keuchel’s contract with the Twins contains a second out clause on the day of the trade deadline, MLBTR has learned. That likely played a significant factor in his decision to forgo the first opportunity; he can continue pitching with the Twins’ Triple-A club for now and then decide on his second opt-out once he has a clearer idea which teams might need immediate rotation help in the wake of the trade deadline.
In the meantime, the veteran lefty continues to pitch well. He tossed six shutout innings in his most recent start for the Saints and is now sporting a 0.69 ERA, 18.5% strikeout rate, 10.2% walk rate and 60.5% grounder rate in 26 innings with the Twins’ Triple-A club.
July 21: Keuchel will not trigger his opt-out clause, reports Darren Wolfson of SKOR North (Twitter link). He’ll remain with St. Paul and will not occupy a spot on the Minnesota 40-man roster for the time being.
July 19: Left-hander Dallas Keuchel signed a minor league deal with the Twins about a month ago and it seems they will have to soon make a decision about whether or not to give him a roster spot. Dan Hayes of The Athletic reports that the southpaw can opt out of that deal on Friday.
Keuchel, 35, was once one of the better pitchers in the league, winning the American League Cy Young award in 2015 by posting a 2.48 earned run average over 232 innings for the Astros. He continued to serve as an effective starter for years after that, even registering a tiny 1.99 ERA in the shortened 2020 season. The two years after that were rough, however, as his ERA shot up to 5.28 in 2022 and then a grisly 9.20 mark last year.
Those struggles last year saw him bounce from the White Sox to the Diamondbacks and the Rangers, as each club tried and failed to capture the previous form of Keuchel. He got some interest as a free agent this winter but ultimately lingered on the open market until last month, when the Twins signed him. At that point, it was noted that Keuchel had been working with Driveline Baseball in order to restore some of his lost velocity and movement.
If the recent results are any indication, the revamp of his arsenal is working. Since joining the Triple-A St. Paul Saints, Keuchel has tossed 20 innings over four starts with a 0.90 ERA. His 19.8% strikeout rate isn’t especially impressive, but the lefty has always been a grounder specialist and is keeping the ball in the dirt at a 55% clip so far this year.
The Twins’ rotation currently consists of Joe Ryan, Bailey Ober, Pablo López, Kenta Maeda and Sonny Gray, all of whom are generally pitching well to various degrees this year. Maeda is the only one with an ERA above 4.25, and his 5.50 mark is largely skewed by a miserable 10-run outing just before he landed on the injured list. Since getting healthy and returning, he has a 2.70 ERA in four starts.
That could make the decision somewhat difficult for Minnesota, as they may not have an immediate need for Keuchel but they also might not want him to get away. Given his past track record and his strong results this year, he could surely find another opportunity elsewhere if he were to trigger that opt-out.