Blue Jays: With no draft pick compensation, keep an eye on Keuchel

ST LOUIS, MISSOURI - OCTOBER 07: Dallas Keuchel #60 of the Atlanta Braves is taken out of the game against the St. Louis Cardinals during the fourth inning in game four of the National League Division Series at Busch Stadium on October 07, 2019 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Scott Kane/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MISSOURI - OCTOBER 07: Dallas Keuchel #60 of the Atlanta Braves is taken out of the game against the St. Louis Cardinals during the fourth inning in game four of the National League Division Series at Busch Stadium on October 07, 2019 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Scott Kane/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

It’s no secret that the Blue Jays could use some help in their starting rotation, and Dallas Keuchel could be a strong candidate to pursue this off-season.

For Blue Jays fans tuning in to watch baseball last night, we watched former Blue Jays like Josh Donaldson of the Atlanta Braves and Russell Martin of the L.A. Dodgers have their teams get eliminated from the postseason.

Donaldson will be among the many talented players to hit the free agent market again this winter, and joining him will be teammate Dallas Keuchel, who signed with Atlanta in June and made just 19 starts in 2019. The reason for that? He had to wait out the free agent market, as he didn’t get the multi-year deal he was hoping for.

A big reason for that is the value that front offices are now placing on their draft picks and player development, especially as baseball keeps trending in a younger direction. There was a time that signing a significant free agent like Keuchel wouldn’t have given anyone pause when it came to losing a potential draft pick, but these days things are different. Keuchel found that out the hard way last winter, and understandably, he hasn’t been shy in criticizing the current system.

More from Jays Journal

That said, the system should work to his advantage this off-season because he’ll no longer have draft pick compensation attached to him. MLB rules state that a player can only have that happen to them as a free agent once in their career, so Keuchel will be able to test the market without giving GMs any pause when it comes to losing their place in the June draft. I also believe that it’s one of many reasons that the Blue Jays should consider making an offer to the southpaw.

The former Houston Astro won’t turn 32 until January, and while he’ll do much better on the market than he did a year ago, I don’t expect that he’ll command a long-term deal. My guess is that he’ll receive something in the neighbour of 3-4 years, and likely for around the same type of money he received from the Braves this season. He signed a one-year deal for 21.1 million, which was prorated to around 13 million dollars.

He proved that he can be a valuable rotation contributor away from the Astros as well, posting a 3.75 ERA and a 1.367 WHIP in 19 starts, good for 2.0 bWAR. Give him a full season and he’s at least a 3-win pitcher, and those don’t come cheap, even if he doesn’t profile the way that most successful starters do these days. Keuchel uses a finesse approach in a power-thrower’s world, and yet he continues to find success.

It’s that approach that also makes me believe that he’ll age well as he approaches his mid-thirties, something that will have to be considered with several free agents this winter. His fastball barely touches 90 as it is, so it’s not as if a loss of velocity is going to hurt him as he ages, and he’s been very healthy throughout his career.

It’s possible that the lack of draft pick compensation makes Keuchel a very popular free agent this winter, especially with top-tier options like Gerrit Cole expected to come with that extra cost. That said, the Blue Jays should have all the payroll space they need, and they could even front-load a deal in order to make things work.

Next. Plenty of reasons to bring back Tepera in 2020. dark

Because we know how much Ross Atkins and company value draft picks, don’t be surprised if Keuchel is on their radar this off-season. It makes sense to me.

facebooktwitterreddit