As the time to sign Dallas Keuchel nears, his agent has made a strong claim about how quickly he’ll be ready to pitch.
The 2019 MLB Draft starts Monday night, and the draft pick compensation attached to signing Dallas Keuchel will go away. The market for the veteran left hander appears to heating up in line with that timetable.
With Keuchel more than fellow free agent Craig Kimbrel, who is a reliever, there will be questions about how quickly he will be ready to pitch. On behalf of his client, agent Scott Boras told Jon Morosi of MLB Network he believes Keuchel will be ready to pitch within roughly a week of signing if the team wants it.
Keuchel reportedly threw simulated games every five days in recent weeks in an effort to stay ready if a team met his terms. He had a throwing session just last weekend, with the New York Yankees among the teams reported to be in attendance.
After a two seasons where he failed to make 30 starts or top 200 innings, Keuchel rebounded and went 12-11 with a 3.74 ERA over 34 starts (204.2 innings) last season for the Houston Astros. His 2015 Cy Young form is not coming back, but he delivered 2.6 WAR in 2018 and he’s still an above average starter who can eat innings if he is ready to go and right.
The idea of not having to wait for him to ramp up will only widen the market for Keuchel next week. It has been easy to see him not being able to take a major league mound until early July, but even in a simulated setting he has at least been trying to keep himself ready.
Playoff contenders with any level interest will want some idea if Keuchel can contribute at a solid level, before possibly dipping into the trade market for a starter come July. If he can make some starts in June, even as he inevitably works some kinks out, there will be a better sample to draw from.
Boras is definitely aware of that, which explains his strong assertion about how quickly Keuchel will be able to pitch. The question is if teams will buy it, and thus pay the full asking price.