The Houston Astros could use a bolster of the starting rotation and Dallas Keuchel is still a free agent. Here’s why not to rule out a reunion. Look.
The Houston Astros will take on their first Spring Training game this evening against the Washington Nationals at the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, Fla. and there are still a lot of unanswered questions of how this team is going to look going into the season.
Although we had hoped that Marwin Gonzalez would have a change of heart, the news of him agreeing to a two-year, $21 million deal with the Minnesota Twins goes to show how life comes at you fast.
The reality has truly set in and we’ll have to begin life without him. The era of Aledmys Diaz — to whom the Houston Astros acquired via trade from the Toronto Blue Jays this off season — is now the utility man and he certainly has some humongous shoes to fill.
Houston Astros‘ owner Jim Crane hinted earlier this week — before the news of MarGo’s deal — that he’d the leave the door open on the possibility of either one or two of those guys would return. He told the media in his appearance that “those guys have had offers, if not from us, from other teams. Those are offers they didn’t take … certainly it could be one or two of them might be back here.”
But Crane would not confirm that an firm overture — other than the $17.9 million qualifying offer extended to Keuchel that was rejected — has been made. He deferred that question to general manager to Jeff Luhnow which was never addressed.
MLB Insider Jon Heyman reported that the Philadelphia Phillies still have strong interest in Keuchel and that San Diego Padres have backed off their pursuit even though they’re still looking for a starting pitcher. This is likely because since they were able to ink Manny Machado to a 10-year, $300 million deal earlier this week.
The Phillies are currently locked into trying to acquire Bryce Harper — they were to meet today in
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Las Vegas, his hometown — but Heyman thinks that they would still have the resources to sign Keuchel to bolster their starting rotation.
Machado and Harper have controlled the narrative of the likelihood of many free agents this off season and as we expected, once these two important dominoes would fall, then the rest of those on the market will get signed.
If Keuchel were to return to the Houston Astros, I’d expect for the deal to not be long-term — the team doesn’t like those kind of pacts — and it’d be roughly for the same amount of money as the qualifying offer. I could theoretically see them sign him to a two-year, $36 million deal if something like this were to happen but it certainly depends.
They Houston Astros have already signed Wade Miley to a one-year, $4.5M deal so having two lefties in the lineup would be an immensely deadly combination. One might as well punch their ticket to a deep postseason run if it were to happen.
The Houston Astros have $153 million committed to payroll this season while it drops to $69 million in 2020 because of Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and George Springer all becoming free agents. It’s expected that the Houston Astros will make an offer to all three of those guys — it’s imperative that they do — but I think they could sign Keuchel with plenty of room to spare.
Yes, there’s no salary cap in baseball but I’m positive there’s a number that Crane has set for Luhnow to stay under in terms of spending on salaries.
It’ll be interesting to see what Keuchel decides to do. Although it’s unlikely to happen, there’s no way in hell that I’m ruling out a possible return to this team.
Keuchel, 30, posted a 12-11 record, a 3.74 ERA with 153 strikeouts, a 1.31 WHIP and 3.69 FIP through 204.2 innings pitched in 2018.