The New York Yankees seemed to be the favorite to sign Dallas Keuchel for much of the week, until the Atlanta Braves came calling.
It took a little longer than seemed logical once the draft started this week, but Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel have new homes. On Thursday night, David O’Brien of The Athletic was first to report the Atlanta Braves signed Keuchel to a one-year deal. Tim Brown of Yahoo! added the deal is worth $13 million for the rest of this season.
As long as he passes his physical, Keuchel is scheduled to start for the Braves’ Triple-A affiliate in Gwinnett on Saturday.
For much of the week, the New York Yankees seemed like the favorites to sign Keuchel. The St. Louis Cardinals were rumored competition, as the Braves seemingly faded after being deemed a co-favorite on Tuesday. Turns out they were laying in the proverbial weeds for a couple days, readying their best offer before making a final push.
It’s unclear how many starts Keuchel will need before the Braves deem him ready to go. But he had been throwing simulated games throughout the offseason, and agent Scott Boras boldly declared last week that his client would be ready to pitch in the big leagues roughly a week after signing if the team wanted it.
The Braves are two games behind the Philadelphia Phillies in the NL East entering Friday’s action. It promises to be a tight race, and the Phillies suddenly look thin in the outfield with Andrew McCutchen (torn ACL) out for the season and Odubel Herrera on leave due to a domestic violence incident late last month.
Atlanta has a starting rotation filled with young guys — Mike Foltynewicz, Mike Soroka, Max Fried, Kevin Gausman — so Keuchel should fit in nicely as a veteran presence with playoff experience. After a couple injury-shortened seasons, he rebounded to make 34 starts and post a 3.74 ERA over 204.2 innings for the Houston Astros last year.
The Braves are firmly in the playoff race, with a good chance to win the NL East for the second straight year. Adding Keuchel, with presumably the highest bid out there, was a move to tilt the playoff odds in their favor.