The Milwaukee Brewers are going to be on the search for rotation upgrades this winter. One of the biggest names on the market they’ll come across is former Astros lefty Dallas Keuchel.
The free agent market this winter has few top arms and many teams, including the Milwaukee Brewers, seeking front of the rotation help. That’ll leave those free agent pitchers in high demand.
But Dallas Keuchel is still one of the top pitchers out there on the market at and he could make a difference for someone like the Brewers.
Why The Brewers Should Go After Keuchel
Kuechel, 30, is a former Cy Young winner that is coming off his third career 200+ inning season. Some his stats regressed, such as his WHIP and his K/9 rate, but he still posted a 3.74 ERA with a 3.69 FIP.
Outside of his pedigree as a durable arm and Cy Young winner, there are two things that should make Keuchel attractive as a free agent to the Milwaukee Brewers: He’s left-handed, and he’s a ground-ball pitcher.
The Brewers are projected to go into next season with an all right-handed rotation and Keuchel can bring some balance to that group with Brent Suter out all of next year.
Miller Park is a notorious hitter-friendly stadium and the only way the Brewers can achieve long-term success at home is to have ground-ball pitchers in their rotation. Over his career, Keuchel owns a 58.8% groundball percentage. His ability to limit fly balls will play into his favor at Miller Park and given how often and how well the Brewers infield uses defensive shifts, he’ll look even better than he did in Houston.
Why The Brewers Shouldn’t Go After Keuchel
Keuchel has been issued a qualifying offer by the Astros, which means any team that signs him will have to forfeit a draft pick. If the Brewers sign him to a deal, they’ll have to give up their third-highest 2019 draft pick.
Last winter, the Milwaukee Brewers signed Lorenzo Cain, who was issued a qualifying offer by the Royals, which made them forfeit their third-highest pick in the 2018 Draft. Would the Brewers really want to give up another early draft pick two years in a row?
Also, there are a ton of teams interested in Keuchel’s services. With teams like the Yankees, Dodgers, and Angels, among others searching for top tier pitching help, it’s going to be a competitive market for Keuchel. That means the price tag will high to sign him. In our Hypothetical Perfect Off-Season Plan, the Brewers would be able to sign Keuchel to a four-year, $75 million contract.
While that would be a nice price tag for Keuchel, and a fair one, there’s a decent chance he’ll be able to get larger offers than that. How high would David Stearns be willing to go to sign Keuchel? My guess is not much higher than the 4/75 mark.
What’s The Verdict?
Signing Keuchel would give the Milwaukee Brewers an established ace that has the profile to succeed at Miller Park and has postseason/World Series experience. He’ll instantly improve the Brewers chances to win their first World Series title.
The windows of success in baseball are very short. Odds are, whatever draft pick the Brewers would make with their third-highest selection won’t be up to Milwaukee in time to help out with the current World Series window. The potential reward for signing Keuchel outweighs the risk of losing that draft pick.
It’ll come down to how high the bidding war gets for Keuchel. If the Yankees, who are known to be desiring a couple starting pitchers to lead their rotation, find some other pitchers to fill the holes on their roster instead of Keuchel, they would be out of the Keuchel sweepstakes. If a team with that many resources bows out, that leaves more room for David Stearns to swoop in and get him at a smaller price tag.
For the Milwaukee Brewers, Keuchel seems like a good get on the free agent market.
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There’s no reason to believe David Stearns won’t at least initially be in the market for Keuchel. He calls on everyone, and if the price falls low enough to get into his range, he’ll make the move.