Houston Astros

Dallas Keuchel stubbornly stands alone on his salary hill

There’s no way Dallas Keuchel should be available in the second month of the season, but he’s not willing to sign for any less than what he perceives as his value.

You can never have enough pitching, yet Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel remain available into May. Each is because of slightly different situations as a starter and reliever, respectively.  In addition, after the draft in June, the draft pick compensation attached to both guys goes away.

There have been plenty of rumors attached to Keuchel, with the most recent coming from Jon Heyman of MLB Network that the New York Yankees would be interested in signing him after the draft. The Yankees’ stance surely applies to other teams, but Keuchel’s asking price seems to be the primary factor in his still being available.

Keuchel has now spoken openly about his situation to Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports, and he says he’s in no hurry to sign for any less than what he thinks his value is. He said he has received multiple offers, including some his agent Scott Boras recommended he consider. That last point stands out, as Boras is famous for getting the most lucrative deals for his clients and often does so.

Why succumb to teams that think you’re needy and you’re willing to accept a lesser offer than your market value? “This is not a me thing,” he said. “This is for the greater good of baseball. This is for principle.”

If Keuchel really wants to pitch, and as of spring training he was pitching simulated games on his own to ramp himself up, plenty of teams can use him. Last year with the Houston Astros he had a 3.74 ERA (3.69 FIP) over 204.2 innings (34 starts) with a 6.7 K/9 and a 2.6 BB/9. He’s still an above average starter, with a Cy Young Award, a World Series ring and four Gold Gloves on his resume, but hardly an ace.

Right or wrong, it’s obvious what Keuchel thinks his market value is and what the actual market will bear do not line up. The last two offseasons have highlighted the flaws in MLB’s free agency system, but Keuchel is currently standing on his salary hill amid a set of flawed and unmet expectations. Whatever money he could have gotten up to now this season, and presumably for the coming weeks, is gone for good.

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As the days continue to pass between now and the June 2 midnight ET deadline when draft pick compensation goes away, the idea Keuchel will make a meaningful contribution to a team this year will fade in parallel.

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