We’re two months into the offseason and the Astros have yet to make a move on the pitching front. It could be a good time to re-sign Dallas Keuchel.
Starting pitchers have been a hot commodity, and midway through the offseason quality starting pitchers are becoming fewer and fewer. Nine out of the top eleven free agent starters have now signed with other teams. Dallas Keuchel is at the top of that free list that’s still looking for a home. Maybe the Astros is meant to be Keuchel’s home after all.
The Astros’ need for a starting pitcher, relief pitcher or both, have been widely debated. But it’s evident the pitching staff has taken quite a hit since the end of last season. Lance McCullers Jr. and Joe Smith recently had surgery, with McCullers gone for the upcoming season and Smith out 6-8 months. Charlie Morton has moved on to greener grass and Collin McHugh is most likely moving from the bullpen to the starting rotation.
That’s a big shake-up to overcome and adding another experienced starting pitcher to the mix could soften the blow. That would necessitate only one more starter to fill out the rotation. Do you really want to rely on prospects to move into the 4th and 5th starting spots, plus make up for the innings lost in the pen by McHugh and Smith? That’s a tall order!
Dallas Keuchel, 31, is the highest ranked starting pitcher left on the free agent market and it’s a pretty good drop-off in quality from there. Keuchel may still be there for a reason. It’s said he is seeking a 5-6 year contract and many teams seem to be balking at that many years. The prediction at the beginning of the offseason was a four-year contract for $82 million by MLBTR. That price may be going down each day he remains a free agent.
There is always the trade option for the Astros, but what cost would Houston be willing to pay for someone like a Corey Kluber. Jeff Luhnow has made it no secret he’s not big on the idea of giving up his top prospects. Keuchel would just be a straight-up signing, no players lost in the deal.
In the seven years Keuchel’s spent here, he has more than proven himself as a tremendous asset on the mound, with five straight Gold Glove Awards, two All-Star appearances and a Cy Young Award. He showed us last season there’s still plenty of gas left in the tank, starting a league-leading 34 games.
Although his performance did ebb some in 2018, when compared to the stellar seasons he had in 2014-15 and again in 2017. They were still respectable numbers posting a 3.74 ERA and winning 12 games. Keuchel still maintained an above average 108 ERA+ and 2.6 WAR. His postseason experience is also something that shouldn’t be overlooked. He has a .667 winning percentage at 4-2 and a 3.31 ERA over three years of postseason work.
Bringing Keuchel back would be the least amount of upheaval and sacrifice to the team’s future. It would also put a smaller burden on the younger inexperienced pitchers. I mean, let’s face it, who wouldn’t like the see that beard back on the mound for the Astros?