Milwaukee Brewers GM David Stearns has done a fantastic job slow playing the off season. Could he slow play his way into Dallas Keuchel on a short term contract?
Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in less than a month. Yasmani Grandal is already in the fold on a one-year deal with a mutual option. Is there a chance that Dallas Keuchel comes to the Milwaukee Brewers on a similar deal? A top free agent starting pitcher has signed a short term deal as recent as last year.
What happened last year?
Then-free agent starter Jake Arrieta was expected to sign a mega deal somewhere. He ended up signing a three-year deal worth $75 million with the Philadelphia Phillies. His contract also includes a pair of club options for 2021 and 2022.
He waited all the way until March 11th, almost a full month into Spring Training, before agreeing to terms.
Is Arrieta that different from Keuchel?
Both are former Cy Young Award winners. Both entered free agency in their early 30’s. And both struggled to find the contract that was expected. Arrieta waited into the Spring before signing, and Keuchel hasn’t been linked to a solid rumor in weeks.
Fangraphs had Keuchel managing a 3.6 WAR in his walk year, while Arrieta posted a 2.4 WAR before his foray into the free agent market. A 3.6 WAR season is clearly better than a 2.4 WAR season, but both starters were down from their peak seasons.
How did Arrieta do in the first year of his contract?
Arrieta made 31 starts for the Phillies last year. He posted a 3.96 WAR with 138 strikeouts and 57 walks in 172 2/3 innings of work. The Phillies paid $30 million for a 2.0 WAR season from Arrieta.
Are there any recent rumors on Keuchel?
The latest rumor on Keuchel was reported before the calendar turned to January. It had the Phillies refusing to give Keuchel a five-year deal, but it did mention that the Milwaukee Brewers have been calling.
If Keuchel can’t get the long term contract he wants this off season, why not try what Grandal did and bet on himself? A one- or two-year deal with the Milwaukee Brewers combined with a solid season and a deep playoff run could net Keuchel the deal he wants next off season or after the 2020 season. Pitchers and catchers head to camp in about 3 weeks. Spring Training games start in about a month. Arrieta was able to wait until he was able to secure a deal that paid him a ton up front. Can Keuchel continue to wait, or will Brewers GM David Stearns be able to swing another top free agent on a short term deal? It remains to be seen, but the Brewers’ odds increase as we inch closer and closer to Opening Day.