At least six teams have “expressed significant interest” in Tom Koehler, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com tweets. Koehler was recently non-tendered by the Blue Jays.
Koehler had been a reliable back-end starter for the Marlins for most of his career. However, he struggled out of the gates for Miami in 2017. The right-hander posted a 7.92 ERA in twelve starts for the Fish, at least in part due to horrific command; he walked 29 batters and allowed 15 home runs across 55 2/3 innings. ERA estimators such as FIP, xFIP and SIERA suggest that he was better than his surface results indicate, but all three still pegged him at a 5.00+ ERA performance.
After bouncing between the Marlins’ major league club and Triple-A New Orleans for the majority of the season, Koehler was traded to the Blue Jays and pitched almost exclusively out of the bullpen. As a reliever, he dramatically reduced the usage of his slider in favor of more curveballs. That led to some respectable results; Koehler’s strikeout rate jumped to 24% (up from 17% with the Marlins), and he managed to get his walks somewhat under control as well. The result was a respectable 2.65 ERA in an admittedly small sample size of 17 innings.
Despite his solid performance in Toronto, the Jays elected not to tender Koehler a contract for the 2018 season. It wasn’t entirely a surprise; the righty was projected to earn about $6MM in his final trip through arbitration after making $5.75MM in 2017. Koehler was listed among MLBTR’s non-tender candidates.
It makes perfect sense that Koehler would have a large handful of suitors. He could be viewed as either a bounce back four or five starter, or a multi-inning relief option with decent upside; either would be intriguing to a plethora of MLB teams. The 31-year-old will be relatively inexpensive, and probably won’t require a commitment longer than one year.