Reds going after Dallas Keuchel in free agency Doug Gray November 29, 2018 60 Comments The Cincinnati Reds have said that they are going to get the pitching. Or, at least that’s what majority stake owner Bob Castellini told The Athletics C. Trent Rosecrans, completely unsolicited. In order to get the kind of pitching he was hinting at it was going to take plenty of money, or plenty of prospects in trade. Paul Daugherty of the Cincinnati Enquirer was told that there was about $30M to spend this offseason in free agency for the club. That’s certainly enough money to sign “the pitching”. According to Jon Heyman has indicated in the past that Dallas Keuchel was a pitcher the team would be considering. Today he went even further with that report, indicating that the Reds are said to be “all over” Dallas Keuchel. As I wrote just over three weeks ago, Keuchel isn’t going to come cheap. The various projections for his contract were between four or five years and anywhere from $19-21M per season. The left handed pitcher will turn 31 in January and is coming off of a season in Houston where he threw 204.2 innings with a 3.74 ERA. There are some things to like with Dallas Keuchel. He’s thrown 200 innings three different times in his career. He throws a whole lot of strikes, too – walking just 6.5% of the batters he’s faced in the last five seasons. And he’s also a big time ground ball pitcher. The performance over his career has been outstanding. Since 2014 he’s posted a 3.28 ERA in 950.1 innings. He’s been a well above-average pitcher. With that said, there are some things to worry about, too. He doesn’t strike guys out in an era where more and more guys are striking hitters out. He posted his lowest strikeout rate since 2012 last season. His ground ball rate, while still a high rate at 53.7%, has taken a big drop off from the last few seasons when it’s been over 60% – and it was at 66.8% in 2017. Keuchel isn’t a hard thrower, either. And while he’s never been one, when you average just 89 MPH on your fastball, the loss of any velocity from that point could see incredibly diminishing returns on your effectiveness. Dallas Keuchel would be an upgrade to the Cincinnati Reds rotation. There’s very little doubt in that. But he looks more like a good #2/3 pitcher than someone who is going to anchor a rotation that is truly competitive in the playoffs, too. His ERA’s over the last three seasons are 4.55, 2.90, and 3.74. In those first two seasons he missed time with injuries, throwing 168.0 and 145.2 innings. He projects to be an above-average starter moving forward, but the prices projected for his services, and years required, seem a bit higher than what he’s likely to provide. The money isn’t mine to spend. But if we assume he’s going to get $20M a year, and four or five years, it seems that money may be able to be spent better from where I sit – 17 miles from Great American Ballpark. It would be a big sign of things for the Reds if they landed Dallas Keuchel in free agency. It would easily be the biggest, most expensive signing they’ve ever made. And it would show the fans that they are serious about trying to win in 2019. It would also be a move that would indeed help them win in 2019. There’s something to be said about actually going out and doing what you stated. The Reds fanbase could use that in the worst way, as it seems their trust is at an all-time low. If you’re Dallas Keuchel, it would be tough to come to Cincinnati unless the money just made too much sense. As a ground ball pitcher, the ballpark isn’t likely to hurt you as much as some others. But as the second best option on the free agent market among starters, there are likely plenty of options to choose from. Going to one of the worst teams in baseball over the last four years after playing in Houston, and having your pick of teams in baseball would be one heck of a sales job by the Reds. We will have to wait and see if they can get it done. It’s great to see the franchise at least rumored to be going after quality players on the market. But it still feels like it’s a longshot to land someone of that caliber. 60 Responses Stock November 29, 2018 Interesting article on Winker in Fangraphs DanD November 29, 2018 Doug, if signed wouldn’t the Reds have to give up their 3rd overall choice in the next draft. I would like the signing if the Reds would trade for either Kluber or Thor having a rotation of: Kluber or Thor Keuchel Castillo Disco Mahle Colorado Red November 29, 2018 Yes they would. Based on the comp pick, that would be a 2nd rounder. (assuming he signs for over 50 Mil.) Still would be worth it. Doug Gray November 29, 2018 The Reds would have to give up a draft pick to sign him, but that doesn’t mean much because it won’t be a 1st round pick, and the value of picks beyond the 1st round is very, very low. Jim M November 29, 2018 Rather Corbin be their 1st choice!! Doug Gray November 29, 2018 I’d rather they pass on both of them if the price is $20M+ and 5 or more years. Redsvol November 29, 2018 Amen. I don’t want to go after any of the top pitching free agents. The risk is just too high. I’d rather get 1-2 middle tier guys on shorter contracts. I don’t believe the difference between HAAP and Keuchel over the next 3 years will be worth the extra 60 million $ required. Keuchel seems to be ready to decline. sixpack2 December 1, 2018 I agree, pass. Too much money or too many years to tie up. The second tier may get a few surprises. Brad Legg November 29, 2018 If he loses 1 or 2 mph in a year or two I’m not too sure. I would feel better for 2 years for Morton. MK November 29, 2018 I agree Brad, I think Charlie Morton might be a much better fit. He has a nice 2-seam fastball that acts as a sinker making for a nice groundball rate. He would probably ask for fewer years and less money. Spending less maybe they could get Tony Sipp for the bullpen as well. If they could get both for the same money as Keuchel and not give a draft pick it would make more sense. Morton wouldn’t be as sexy as Keuchel for Marketing Dept. however. Stock November 29, 2018 The difference between Keuchel in 2018 vs. prior years is mostly his slider. It was getting hit hard. He didn’t lose velocity. He lost some horizontal movement but that would not cause this much discrepancy I think. His whiff % on the slider went from 21% to 11%. The second half he was much better with the slider though. I think he would be a great addition. AirborneJayJay November 29, 2018 Several nice Reds items out today. Eovaldi should be the Reds desired option to go after. Keuchel is OK, but I’d rather steer clear of any Scott Boras client, even Harvey, if at all possible. More than likely though, this is just Heyman laying down some ground cover for the Reds front office. When all is said and done by the opening of spring training, the Reds can say they “tried to get the pitching”, as evidenced by his article. Draft pick compensation tied to Keuchel should make the Reds think twice about this particular option. Go for Eovaldi!!!!!! AirborneJayJay November 29, 2018 Should have said the total money amount, plus the number of years it will take, plus the draft pick compensation tied to Keuchel should make the Reds think twice. 3-4 years for Eovaldi as opposed to 5-6 years for Keuchel or Corbin. $15-$17M per year for Eovaldi as opposed to $19-$22M for Keuchel or Corbin. Eovaldi is younger. I’d put my eggs in the Eovaldi basket. AllTheHype November 29, 2018 Eovaldi has like 12 teams interested in him. His market is likely way above projections. Why would he come to CIncy out of that group of interest, unless an extreme overpay by Reds? I mean, we can all hope a snowball in hell doesn’t melt. Bob Anderson November 29, 2018 Keuchel costs draft picks. I just don’t see that. I think this is a media spin because the Reds “talked”……………….right. Most likely Boras trying to push up Keuchel’s market. Wes November 29, 2018 Better to give up a pick than a top 5 organizational prospect bred November 29, 2018 This, to me, would be a move to appease the Reds fan base and not help in 2021 when I think the Reds will be in contention for the division. Neville Chamberlain Quote: I believe it is peace in our time. That did not work out, and I doubt this move by the Reds will either. Oldtimer November 29, 2018 Correct. 2021 is a reasonable target to contend seriously for NL Central. Maybe 75 W in 2019. Maybe above .500 W-L record in 2020. 85 to 90 W in 2021. Most Reds MiLB prospects are 2-3 years away. Senzel in 2019 of course. AirborneJayJay November 29, 2018 Can we get Dallas Keuchel paired up with Mat Latos’s ex-wife?? Dallas and Dallas. MK November 29, 2018 She could probably keep some reptiles in that beard. jbonireland November 29, 2018 We all dream of Syndegard, Kluber, or Happ thinking this will make everything better and turn us into a wild card team. I really wouldn’t want to give up 6 years of any of our top prospects (say top 6) for two years of any of these guys. With the amount of money the Reds have to spend I would rather see them spend their $30 million and sign two or three of these pitchers on 1-3 year contracts and assume Derek Johnson can get better pitching out of them. In no particular order……. Clay Bucholz Gio Gonzalez (L) Jeremy Hellickson Drew Holland (L) Lance Lynn Wade Miley (L) Tyson Ross Drew Pomerantz (L) sixpack2 December 1, 2018 Boy, do I agree. Optimist November 29, 2018 I’m very wary of a 30+ SP at 4 years, and just plain no at 5 years. The draft pick is no concern, and the Boras involvement will evaporate quickly. If anything, slightly overpay for the 4th year to avoid a 5th year, or make it a buyout after 4. Don’t get Homered. Still, probably need 2 more SPs in addition to this, and I hope they’re talking with Harvey and Cahill. They need 8-10 SP candidates in spring training, with at least 5 having a full year (150 ip) track record. That should be the step up goal from the past 4 years. kevinz November 29, 2018 Reds feed off draft Picks . If Reds Draft like have the past 3 years, no way giving up a draft pick. If he was an Ace type then the draft pick means very little. Wes November 29, 2018 Who are u thrilled about in reds system over past 3 years ? Imo there’s not one reds prospect who’s overachieved since I’ve been following this site for 3 years. Not one guy excites me as a game changer from last draft. Downs and Fairchild both are both behind schedule and Greene and senzel both have injuries surrounding them. If you can get kuechel for 4 years 70 million or better it’d be e z to give up that pick. kevinz November 29, 2018 Downs and Fairchild have played one full Season of Pro ball. Doubt they much behind the curve. Most excited about Trammell Senzel Siani Greene. Yea injuries affected a few but still reason to be excited. Injuries have affected Kuechel as well but he is old with no upside. Oldtimer November 29, 2018 Rookie league from June through August is a full season. D and F have two years in Reds MiLB system. kevinz November 29, 2018 3 months is not a full season to me but just my opinion. Rich H November 30, 2018 Jesse Winker is looking pretty darn good. Beyond that, it’s important to remember that they gutted the farm system to push for playoff runs not too long ago. Plenty of good Reds prospects from that era are playing really well… For other teams. Definitely some hits and misses, and injuries, since, but overall, I don’t think they have a terrible recent track record of developing at least position players. Doug knows best, and that’s not (as he pointed out) a terrible valuable pick, but I think some context for their current minor league program is valuable. It’s pretty good. redleggingfordayz November 30, 2018 I mean this isn’t their round 1 or round 1 comp pick so I don’t see why we would really care about losing the draft pick if we are able to sign Keuchel to anchor the rotation. kevinz November 30, 2018 Because he is not a Ace type Pitcher. Go big or go home. Betts was a 4th rd pick votto 2nd rd pick. First rd the hype RD. 2nd rd on are the Gems. That is where scouting actually shows up. RedsFaninPitt November 29, 2018 Doug: Keuchel is left handed pitcher. DocProc November 29, 2018 *Check paragraph 2, Doug–Keuchel’s a lefty, not a righty. Oldtimer November 29, 2018 He throws left but catches the ball with his right. So he uses both hands. But your point is well taken. Doug Gray November 29, 2018 NO, YOU GUYS ARE LEFT HANDED PITCHERS! Thanks for pointing out the error. Fixed it. I’m a big dummy who has typed so many words today that my fingers hurt worse than the lady quilting in the nursing home from Happy Gilmore. MuddyCleats November 30, 2018 You just pulled landscape duty; anyone else’s fingers hurt ? Wes November 29, 2018 About the only thing reds have done well of late are signing guys. Maybe the market isn’t there on kuechel and he’s looking at much shorter and less per year deals ?? If reds could get him 3/60 or 4/72 those are good contracts for reds and would be a great sign imo. Doesn’t seem to far fetched since he’s still out there. Norwood Nate November 29, 2018 I understand the interest. He’s one of the top three pitchers on the market along with Corbin and Eovaldi. For me it’s hard to get over the risk of 4/$20m or more considering success rate of FA pitcher signings, at least at the top end. With Bailey ‘s contract still on the books, the risk is more glaring. I’d still rather see them go after Kikuchi and Gonzalez and then try to sign Pollack after moving Hamilton. Scott C November 29, 2018 Unfortunately this kind of signing is the kind of big splash that Big Bob is trying to make, so he can say “See we are trying to compete.” so he would probably overpay. The issue however is a 4 to 5 year contract that Keuchel is looking for. I for one would not want to tie up that kind of money for that length of time on a pitcher that is on the wrong side of 30. MuddyCleats November 30, 2018 Spot On; it seems that’s what Bob is shooting for. I think most fans would like to seem improvement, but also someone they can building around for the next 5 yrs. If Org is going to give up some of it’s better projects, shouldn’t that be the goal. Keuchel seems to have a lot of question marks?? Gaffer November 29, 2018 Eric Milton 2.0 B-town Fan November 29, 2018 Doug, wondered what you thought. I won’t believe the Keuchel signing until I see it, and I’m not sure he’s the right guy, but lets go with the “there’s smoke where there’s fire theory” and there’s been a lot of smoke around Keuchel and Harvey, he seems to be constantly mentioned everywhere. So lets say the Reds sign both of them and they address centerfield either internally with say Senzel or an outside option. Do you think that is enough improvement in the team for 2019 in your mind. RedsFaninPitt November 29, 2018 Interestingly, the Mets just signed Dilson Herrera to minor league contract. That means the Reds now have nothing of value to show from the Bruce trade. Either the Reds are totally overlooking his abilities or there was some off field characteristics they didn’t like. Only the latter makes sense. Otherwise, they never gave this guy much of a chance after his shoulder surgery. Hod Eller November 29, 2018 Very much agree! There was a lot to like about Herrera. So much to like that, yes, makes you wonder if there was some off-the-field issue. Delivered a poised, professional at-bat every time I saw him. Oldtimer November 29, 2018 Herrera batted .184 for Reds in 2018. His career MLB average is .203 in parts of 3 seasons. Good MiLB hitter. Unfortunately Reds play in MLB instead. Tom November 29, 2018 This guy checks most the boxes. Reel him in! MK November 29, 2018 This is a little out of the box, but with McCann leaving Houston might they see what they can get for Barnhart from Houston, then resign Mesoraco? MuddyCleats November 30, 2018 Hunter Green and Barnhart for Forrest Whitley maybe? Choo Choo Coleman November 29, 2018 Trade Votto to the Yankees for Gray, Greg Byrd, and 3 top prospects. Get out from that awful contract & spend $ on pride pitching. Move Gennett to 1B, and shift rest of inf over one spot — Peraza to 2b; Suarez to SS & Senzel goes to 3B… sign Adam Jones to play CF until Trammel is ready! Game plan! DrBagel November 29, 2018 Interesting thought, but there’s a zero% chance of this happening in the real world. Rich H November 30, 2018 That sounds terrible. Mr. Putin November 30, 2018 I’m so happy you are not the gm. That is horrible. MuddyCleats November 30, 2018 Now were talking, but not sure I like what Reds R getting back n your trade? Likewise, I doubt any team would give that much for Joey? No doubt, Votto is that Elephant contract in the corner no one seems willing to talk about. Why Votto wants to stay in Cincy and play for a losing Org when he would fit great in NYY or Houston is a mystery to me. His steady bat in the middle of those free swinging sluggers in both Org would play great and give him a chance at a WS ring. Votto, Barnhart and a Pitching prospect for Forrest Whitley That would really be something for both Org. Reds would have a couple of nice young SP prospects to build around, a big bat @ 1b where it belongs and a couple of yrs to develop or acquire a new 1B prospect, a spot for Senzel @ 2nd, open spots for emerging prospects @ catcher and CF. Troy November 29, 2018 I’m cool with Keuchel at 4 years $20 mill as long as we can get another upgrade along with him.. the reds need 2 quality starters minimum. I’d prefer that second guy to be Thor but based on a mlbtraderumors chat today, the reds are “out” on him.. i hope that report is inaccurate Jim t November 30, 2018 Would be happier with a 3 year deal with a club option for a 4th. Sign Dallas and bring Harvey back and I like our rotation. Play Senzel in CF . Rotation. Dallas k Disco Castillo Harvey Open competition for 5th spot. terry m November 30, 2018 Happ,Helickson and a RP for this year. Next year go for a TOR pitcher. 2020 is the year. AlphaZero November 30, 2018 I’ll take Keuchel. Proven number 2 type starter coming over from the AL. Yes, he’s just over 30, but aging curves look much different for SP than for position players. Injury is always a huge risk with pitchers of any age/type, but Keuchel has a pretty clean history and that’s all you can really go on at this stage. Sign Keuchel and then use your lesser prospects to find a buy low candidate like Stroman, Jon Gray, or Sonny Gray that doesn’t require giving a top 5 prospect. (1) Keuchel (2) Castillo (3) Stroman/Gray/Gray (4) Desclafani (5) Mahle Then you hope that your buy low guy or Castillo eventually develops into an ace and bumps Keuchel down the pecking order. And you still have guys like Reed, Sims, and Santillan sitting in reserve as depth. What front office? November 30, 2018 Reds need to look at Merrill Kelly. Was over in korea and Pitched pretty good. Definitely worth the look, but management is asleep at the wheel. James H. November 30, 2018 Keuchel would be an idiot to sign with the Reds after playing for the Astros. Tough park to pitch in, he’s aging, not great defense behind him, dreadfully last place team. Reds should build via trading talent from 11-25 range of position player prospects and current roster players who clog the pipeline, plus build from within. If they’re going to sign anyone, needs to be a better fit than aging free agents riding on past accomplishments with little rise in value. DanD November 30, 2018 If the Reds can sign Keuchel for 3 years plus an option at no more than lets say 72 million it would be worth giving up the second round pick. The last 5 second round picks were Sparks, Santillan, Okey, Fairchild and Richardson. As of right now the only pick I like is Santillan. The jury is out on Fairchild and Richardson.