After a few weeks of the 2019 regular season went by and neither Dallas Keuchel nor Craig Kimbrel had found free agent homes, a switch flipped and pretty much everyone agreed that they’d be waiting until after the June Amateur Draft to sign a free agent deal. As you’ll recall, that’s when teams will no longer have to give up draft picks/bonus pool money/IFA bonus money for signing either one of them.
Well, that draft is coming up on Monday and, expectedly, the rumors are heating up.
Jon Heyman has the latest on both free agents, and you’ll notice a couple teams from the NL Central (though not your favorite) grab a mention:
The draft pick attachment goes away first minute Monday, at 12:01 am. So look for Keuchel/Kimbrel to sign after that, maybe not too long after. Hear Yankees/Braves strongly in on DK; Twins, Brewers, Cards, Rays among others. CK market also active. ATL, PHI, MINN, TB, many more.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) May 31, 2019
Since the Cubs aren’t mentioned on either player (they’d only be in play for Craig Kimbrel – if they were going to be in play for anyone – anyway), let’s focus on Dallas Keuchel, who’s apparently drawing interest from both the Brewers and Cardinals.
Although the Yankees and Braves both appear to have stronger interest in Keuchel, at least according to Heyman’s sources, the Twins, Brewers, Cardinals, and Rays all make plenty of sense, as well.
The Brewers, just a half-game out of first entering play tonight, are obviously in contention this season (and figure to be over the next 1-2 years), but rank 20th in starting pitcher WAR throughout the league right now. The Cardinals meanwhile, having just extended Paul Goldschmidt, are clearly looking to contend not only this year, but also the next 3-4 years and currently rank 27th in starting pitcher WAR. Both teams need help in the rotation this season and beyond, and Keuchel is still only 31. Whether Keuchel wants a one-year deal, or wants to try to lock down a multi-year pact, either of those NL Central teams could make plenty of sense – indeed, they could try to land him on a multi-year bargain.
I don’t know that they would have had a significant interest in waiting until after the draft – their compensation would be a lower draft pick then, for example, the Yankees – but maybe both big free agents have decided not to do or sign anything until every potential suitor is involved again. In other words, if the Yankees and Braves are waiting for after the draft, then everyone has to wait.
Now, I don’t think Keuchel will necessarily put the struggling Cardinals over the top and I think the Cubs can still beat the Brewers with him, too. After all, we don’t know how much ramp up time he’ll need or if he’ll even be himself after so much time off or if there wasn’t going to be an age-progressed fall-off anyway. There’s something to be said about resting your arm and saving bullets, but at a certain point it’s no longer good for you. Still, I’d rather not see either one of the Cubs’ chief rivals land a big starter for only money (and likely not a ton of it).
So we’ll keep tabs on this, but I’d keep your eyes peeled next week as things could move quickly.