The free agent hot stove has started to cool off some, but could the Texas Rangers heat it up by making a run at Dallas Keuchel?
The Texas Rangers have made some strides in attempting to bolster their rotation in 2019 and beyond, but they still lack the core that can be effective now and three years down the road. Is there a free agent pitcher who can fit that role? Enter Dallas Keuchel.
The market for Dallas Keuchel has seemed to cool off a bit in recent days but he still is the headliner of remaining free agent pitching. The Phillies, Nationals, Reds and number of other teams, including the Rangers, have been connected to Keuchel this offseason but a number of those teams have balked at a 5-year deal that Keuchel is reportedly seeking.
The 31-year old and his agent, Scott Boras, started out the offseason seeking upwards of a 6-year contract and while they seem to have revised the length a bit, 5 years is still a lot of commitment to a pitcher already seeing his velocity decline. The drop in the hype surrounding Keuchel may present the perfect opportunity for Texas to swoop in and snap up the veteran left-hander.
The question is, is it worth it?
How Would A Deal Get Done?
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For the Texas Rangers to be in on Dallas Keuchel, I think he’ll have to revise his contract length ask to 4 years. While the Rangers are desperate for starting pitching, what they aren’t desperate for is long contracts that handcuff what they can do in the future. At four years, Keuchel’s contract would be ending right at the time that Joey Gallo and Jose Leclerc will be finishing up their years of team control. Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Ronald Guzman won’t be far behind that as they will enter their final year of arbitration that offseason meaning Texas will have a little extra cash to spread around to lock up its current young talent.
At 4 years, I think Texas would be very interested. Keuchel is coming off a solid 2018 where he maintained his great groundball rate while throwing over 200 innings. With Texas having a solid core of defenders, a groundball pitcher would be a welcomed addition to the rotation. However Texas also won’t get outrageous with the dollar amount in the contract as they are likely to make some runs at big-time free agents over the next couple of years. MLB Trade Rumors predicted Keuchel would get 4 years, $82 million this offseason and that sounds about right. I think Texas would go up to $21 million per year average but beyond that, I don’t think they see the value.
What Are The Stumbling Blocks?
In any potential deal with Keuchel there are some stumbling blocks ahead. First off 5 years on any contract would get an automatic no from the Rangers I’d imagine and anything approaching $25 million per year would be laughable. Besides that though, Keuchel rejected a Qualifying Offer from the Astros meaning Texas would be required to provide extra compensation to sign the 31-year old. The Rangers would be forced to give up their second highest draft pick in 2019 as well as $500,000 of international bonus pool.
Also, should Texas be looking to commit long-term to a pitcher that isn’t really an ace on a contending club. Keuchel probably is a number two on good teams and a three on great teams. With the way the Rangers rotation is, do they think it’s wise to bring in a long-term option without an ace of the future in place?
While this is a deal I definitely wouldn’t be opposed to getting done, I’m not actively rooting for Texas to make a move for Keuchel. While I think he’s a great pitcher and I’m never opposed to getting good pitching in Arlington, I can understand the hesitation Texas might have and it gives me some apprehension as well.