Baseball free agency is heating up as the weather gets colder. This week we are breaking down 10 potential free-agent targets for the White Sox ahead of the Winter Meetings.
Dallas Keuchel, LH SP, Braves
2019 salary: $13,000,000
2019 stats: 112.2 IP, 3.75 ERA, 91 K, 39 BB, 115 hits (16 HR)
What Keuchel would bring to the White Sox
Among the marquee free-agent starting pitchers this offseason, Keuchel is the only Cy Young award winner (Rick Porcello is a Cy Young winner and a free agent, but is not marquee). That was back in 2015 and Keuchel will be 32 on New Year's Day. Can he still be that pitcher?
When Keuchel hit free agency last offseason, baseball front offices showed they didn't think so. Keuchel and agent Scott Boras didn't get the big deal they wanted. Instead, he signed a one-year, $13 million deal on June 7.
In 19 starts with the Braves, Keuchel was solid. His 3.75 ERA was almost the same as the 3.74 ERA from the year before and his strikeout rate ticked up from 2018. On the flipside his walks and home runs were the highest they'd been since his rookie year.
The sinkerballer isn't a frontline starter like he was in 2014, 2015 and 2017 when he was with Houston. Still, he has been an above average starting pitcher the last two seasons. Further regression is the concern, but he would be a significant upgrade in the middle of the White Sox rotation.
What it would take to get him
Keuchel is likely to be one of the weirder pitchers in free agency because of what happened to him last year. When he was a year younger, teams didn't want to commit to him on a big contract.
He could be quicker to sign this time around and is more likely to take a multi-year deal instead of another one-year deal that puts him back in free agency at 33. His $13 million contract with the Braves was prorated, meaning he was worth north of $20 million.
Don't expect Keuchel to get $20 million on a multi-year deal, but he could be in the mid-teens over three or four years.
Why it makes sense for the White Sox
Keuchel won't price himself out of the White Sox's range and he fills a big need. The White Sox don't necessarily need aces like Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg, but they do need experience and depth in the starting rotation. Keuchel brings both.
The risk is that Keuchel slips a bit in performance and becomes a league-average pitcher sooner rather than later. He doesn't rack up many strikeouts and his increased home run rate is a red flag when entertaining the thought of a pitcher having home games at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Next group for White Sox choice of free agent starters Dallas Keuchel - Madison Bumgarner - Hyun-Jin Ryu . All are left handed .That is what the Sox are missing in the rotation until at least late summer with Carlos Rodon on the mend from TJ surgery.— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) December 4, 2019