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Should they go five years for Dallas Keuchel?

It’s rumored that Dallas Keuchel wants his next team to offer a five-year deal. Should the Milwaukee Brewers offer a deal that long?

The latest reports on free agent starter Dallas Keuchel are that the Philadelphia Phillies are unwilling to offer him a five-year deal. Would it make sense for the Milwaukee Brewers to offer Keuchel the five-year offer he’s looking for?

How badly do the Brewers need another starter?

The Milwaukee Brewers had everything break their way in 2018, except for their starting rotation. The bullpen overachieved, the defense was solid, and the offense was timely.

They got by with 75 starts from Junior Guerra, Brent Suter, Wade Miley, Zach Davies, Dan Jennings, and Aaron Wilkerson. Guerra has been banished to the bullpen. Suter probably won’t pitch in 2019. Miley and Jennings are available, but not coming back. Davies is the only option of that group who is likely to start in 2019.

The Milwaukee Brewers need a starting pitcher. While it’s great to dream about young arms such as Freddy Peralta, Brandon Woodruff, and Corbin Burnes, none of the Brewers youthful trio have made more than 14 starts at the Major League level. The Brewers need to add to their rotation, and Keuchel is the best option available who won’t gut their farm system. Banners fly forever, and Keuchel has the pedigree and skill to help the Brewers get past the NLCS and into a World Series.

What’s the best-case scenario for a five-year deal for Keuchel?

That Keuchel shows up completely healthy each Spring, logs 200 innings, and posts a sub-3.50 ERA in each of the next five years before hitting free agency again. He’s thrown 200 innings or managed a sub-3.50 ERA or both(!)in three of his last five seasons, so it’s doable.

For the contract to really make sense, Keuchel would have to post better numbers than Jhoulys Chacin. For a pitcher switching from a hitter’s park in a tough division to a hitter’s park in a slightly worse division without the DH, that’s possible…right?

What’s the worst-case scenario?

Vernon Wells is the worst-case scenario for any lengthy deal. Wells signed a seven-year deal worth $126 million with the Toronto Blue Jays after the 2006 season, and proceeded to post an 8.3 WAR for the duration of the deal. This was after he posted a 6.2 WAR in 2006.

He averaged $18 million per year, and even he was traded…twice. There’s really no such thing as an ‘untradeable contract’ for a free agent as long as full no-trade clauses aren’t handed out. If the Blue Jays can find another taker for Wells, then the Milwaukee Brewers can find a new home for Keuchel, and that’s assuming that he’s a disaster.

Do you want a more recent example? Homer Bailey was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers as recently as a week ago. Bailey signed a six-year deal worth $105 million after the 2013 season. He’s thrown 377 1/3 innings, and posted a 5.27 ERA, and the Cincinnati Reds were able to get out from the last year of his deal.

Next: Are the Brewers in the mix for Sonny Gray?

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Only players with no-trade clauses or 5 & 10 rights are ‘untradeable’, and Keuchel is unlikely to have a full no-trade clause for the entirety of his deal. If he sucks the Milwaukee Brewers can get out from under his contract. If the Brewers sign Keuchel, the goal should be to get the most out of him in the first few years of the deal, and hope that he doesn’t completely fall apart before he turns 36.

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