Left-hander Dallas Keuchel has opted out of his minor league deal with the Twins, The Athletic’s Britt Ghiroli reports (Twitter link). Minnesota now has a couple of days to decide whether or not to add Keuchel to the active roster, or else release the veteran southpaw.
Since inking that minors pact in June, Keuchel has a very impressive 1.13 ERA over six starts and 32 Triple-A innings. His 21.2% strikeout rate and 9.1% walk rate are nothing to write home about, but his 61.5% grounder rate indicates that the 35-year-old is still very capable of keeping the ball in the park. The Triple-A numbers are at least a hint that Keuchel might have something left in the tank, after a 6.35 ERA over 222 2/3 innings with the White Sox, Diamondbacks, and Rangers during the 2021-22 seasons left some impression that Keuchel’s career might be over.
This is the second of two opt-out dates in Keuchel’s contract, as he passed on triggering his first date on July 21. Since his second opt-out date fell on the day of the trade deadline, it was more logical for Keuchel to wait and access his options to see what the Twins or other teams might need pitching-wise now that they’re prohibited from addressing those needs on the trade market.
The Twins’ pitching depth led to some trade calls pre-deadline, though Minnesota chose to retain all of their starters. As such, the Twins will make their push for the AL Central title with their current staff of Joe Ryan, Pablo Lopez, Sonny Gray, Kenta Maeda, Bailey Ober, plus Louie Varland and Simeon Woods Richardson are in the minors as depth, and Chris Paddack might be back from Tommy John surgery in September.
On paper, there doesn’t appear to be a clear opening for Keuchel to make regular starts in Minnesota, so the Twins might pass on keeping the veteran in the organization. Keuchel might instead find an opportunity on a team that is out of the race and looking to fill innings down the stretch, or it’s even possible that a contender might see Keuchel as a fallback option if that club didn’t add a starter at the deadline (or if an injury arises in the coming days). Ghiroli previously reported that if Keuchel’s contract is selected to the majors, he’ll earn the prorated portion of a $2.05MM salary.