Former World Series champion and Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel hasn’t been able to find a job this season. Having turned 31 in January, teams have been scared off by the prospect of declining production from the pitcher. His 2.90 ERA in 2017 didn’t help with reservations, as he missed about a third of that season with a neck injury. Teams just don’t want to budge on a long-term deal for Keuchel.
It’s now June and the MLB Draft has concluded. Keuchel is no longer subject to draft-pick compensation, which has brought his name back into the conversation. Apparently that conversation has entered the offices of Yankees executives.
A second source believes the Yankees are going to land Dallas Keuchel, and that they are emerging as the true favorites for the former Cy Young winner.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) June 4, 2019
It makes sense, however, to backtrack for a minute. The Houston Astros, who are competing for a championship, did not re-sign him. The rest of baseball saw him go unsigned through spring training, the early season, and now all of May. So it’s fair to ask, why should the Yankees want him? Or, better yet, why should fans want the Yankees to sign him?
One can look at the starting five listed above in different ways. Some may see it and say that German has been an elite pitcher so far. Tanaka is always good in big games, and Paxton has ace material. As for CC Sabathia and J.A. Happ, they’re good back-end starters who can help eat up innings. You can conclude that argument by saying the staff has done well enough as is, and Luis Severino will be coming back.
On the other hand, one can take a glass-half-empty approach to measuring the rotation’s sustainability. German hasn’t pitched all that well lately, and he’s already nearing his career-high in innings pitched (85). Paxton had a clunker last night and has a long injury history. Tanaka is good, but he can be inconsistent. Plus, CC is an IL-stint waiting to happen, and Happ has struggled. This is the way an executive has to look at it, hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. When examining the rotation in this fashion, it shows the staff isn’t ready for a deep postseason run.
The question then becomes who to add to bolster the rotation. Yankees fans rejoiced over the Paxton trade, as the left-hander became an ace-adjacent behind Severino. Injuries, however, have prevented the formation of that 1-2 punch. So the team needs something else. This doesn’t mean they need another elite arm, just another legitimate arm. Fortunately, that’s exactly what Keuchel can provide. The best part? He’s a free agent.
This is where one has to use the glass-half-full mentality. As incomplete as the rotation may seem, they propelled the team to first place. So there is no rush or urgency to make a major upgrade to the staff. This is good news for the Yankees, as they won’t have to get rid of any prospects while they attempt to replenish their farm system. They still have players like Estevan Florial, Jonathan Loisiga, Clint Frazier and Albert Abreu that they can move, but should they be dealt, they’d be depleting their pipeline.
Signing Keuchel would add an experienced veteran, a Cy Young winner and a World Series champion to a staff that can definitely use another arm. This would protect the Yankees from German coming down to earth, a Sabathia injury, or Happ not providing the production the team expected.
To be clear, this addition would make sense simply because all the Yankees would have to part with is money, of which they have plenty. That is not much of a risk at all. The team will just have to hope they get their money’s worth.