Dallas Keuchel, the former Cy Young winner who suffered through a free-agent nightmare last year, won’t miss opening day this time around.
Keuchel has reportedly agreed to join the Chicago White Sox, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
MLB Network’s Jon Heyman says it’s a three-year deal worth $55.5 million. There’s a vesting fourth year that would take the deal to $74 million.
The 31-year-old lefty is coming off an abbreviated season with the Atlanta Braves in which he finished 8-8 with a 3.75 ERA in 19 starts. That’s because Keuchel sat on the free-agent market until mid-June. His market was limited because of a qualifying offer that was basically a scarlet letter for interested teams. Any team that signed him would have to forfeit a draft pick because of the qualifying offer.
He and reliever Craig Kimbrel became the faces of MLB’s free-agent freeze last year, sitting out until after the MLB Draft, when the qualifying offer penalty expired.
There was no such drama this time for Keuchel, who entered the market as an unrestricted free agent. His age and more recent track record made him the fifth-best free-agent starter on Yahoo Sports’ Top 25 free-agent list. He ranked No. 12 overall.
While it’s true that Keuchel’s best innings might be behind him, he still proved himself as a valuable contributor for a contending team. He gave the Braves his best between Aug. 8 and Sept. 11, when he was 6-1 in seven starts with a 2.66 ERA and 39 strikeouts compared to 13 walks.
That version of Keuchel will be a huge help to the White Sox, who will also benefit from Keuchel’s postseason experience and clubhouse leadership. The downside of Keuchel is that he doesn’t blow anybody away with his stuff. He relies on his sinker and changeup, trying to get soft contact out of opponents.
It worked great when he was with the Houston Astros in his first seven seasons. He won the Cy Young in Houston in 2015, going 20-8 with a 2.48 ERA. It was one of three sub-3.00 ERA seasons for Keuchel in Houston.
Overall, the White Sox have an interesting mix with Keuchel and fellow veteran left-hander Gio Gonzalez joining the rotation this week. Chicago also has a quartet of up-and-coming right-handers that's led by Lucas Giolito. The signing of Keuchel further indicates they believe 2020 will be a breakthrough season.
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