Braves players react to Dallas Keuchel signing

Credit: Al Bello

Credit: Al Bello

The Braves’ players and coaches are thrilled about the Dallas Keuchel acquisition. In their eyes, it bolstered their rotation while sending a clear message: It’s time to win now.

How players Saturday reacted when discussing the one-year, $13-million deal, along with additional thoughts from the manager:

Catcher Brian McCann, who played with Keuchel in Houston:

“We’re all excited. Great teammate, great competitor, great pitcher. We’re all extremely happy he’s going to be here. … It’s huge. With his resume and what he’s accomplished in his career has been amazing. So to add him to the team, with his work ethic, intangibles that he has, he’ll fit great.”

“He’s one of those guys that when you watch him do his thing, he’s always in the weight room, video room, working on mechanics. He’s non-stop. That’s why he’s one of the best in the game and we’re glad to have him.”

On the message it sends:

“We have a great team. We have a team that can do some great things. They added onto it. They added a nice piece, a great piece. When I look around here, we have a lot of talent. Guys are just scratching the surface of what they’re capable of. Like I said before, the Braves are going to be good for a long, long time. I think we’re just getting to the beginning of it.”

On Keuchel calling him a Hall of Famer:

“It’s awesome. I don’t even know what to say to that. We have a great friendship. I appreciate those words. He’s one of the best.”

First baseman Freddie Freeman:

“It’s pretty big news. It’s a former Cy Young winner, a huge boost for our team. It lets us know that they want to win and we do too.”

On the message it sends:

“It’s pretty evident what the message is. Our front office wants to win and so do we. It’s up to us now to go out and win ballgames, so hopefully Dallas can get here sooner rather than later. I think he’s pitching (Saturday) in Gwinnett, so hopefully all goes well and he can get here soon.”

On adding a veteran presence to the staff:

“Now we have two, with Julio (Teheran), too. Julio has been absolutely outstanding this year. You add another one like that, it’s big. Another guy you can rely on every five days to give you a chance to win. Three-and-a-half ERA in the American League last couple years, I have a feeling that’s going to go down in the National League where you face the pitcher all the time. It’s a big boost for our club. We got a lot of awards in this clubhouse now. Cy Youngs, Rookies of the Years, MVPs, Manager of the Years, All-Stars, we have a good group of guys in this clubhouse now. I think we’re built to win.”

On his background knowledge of Keuchel:

“I don’t know him at all, but the last couple days I’ve been talking to B-Mac. Talked to him on the plane on the way down here. He says I’m going to love the guy. … I’m really excited to have him here, and I think everyone’s going to love him in this clubhouse.”

Outfielder Nick Markakis:

“It’s huge. It’d be huge for any team to get a guy like that. Being on the other end, facing him, knowing what he offers to a ballclub is big, especially what he offers us. You always hear good things about him. B-Mac has always said good things about him. He works hard and he’s a big-league pitcher. He’s really good at what he does. So he’s going to help us tremendously.”

On facing Keuchel in the American League:

“He’s not a guy who’s going to blow you away up there, but he’s not going to miss his spots. I’d much rather face a guy who’s throwing 95 mph but doesn’t know where it’s going, then you can sit middle as opposed to a guy who knows how to pitch and controls the strike zone. It’s a lot tougher hitting that, especially with the movement he has and the experience he has. He’s going to be a tremendous fit for us and he’s going to help us big.”

Third baseman Josh Donaldson (more from Donaldson can be found here):

“He used both sides of the plate with the heater. Fastball, cutter inside. He does a really good job of throwing strikes that are on the plate, but with his stuff it makes it feel like the plate is bigger than what it is as a hitter. Then he can change speeds on you with a breaking ball.”

“Cy Young award winner, guy who’s been to the postseason, won a World Series. We’re getting a guy who’s really good. … He’s a guy who gets a lot of ground balls, will give you a chance to win every fifth day he’s out there.”

Starter Max Fried:

“(I’m looking forward to) picking his brain. He’s been doing it for a long time, and he’s been doing it well. Just seeing the way he goes after hitters, attacks them, how he prepares every day. I’ll pick his brain as much as I can. That’d be incredible.”

On the message it sends:

“It means a lot. We’re trying to win. It’s a really tough division. He’s an extremely talented pitcher. Winning now is real. We want to win now. Obviously we got a little taste of it in the playoffs last year, and we’re trying to build off that.”

Starter Mike Soroka:

“It’s a little surreal to think about it. … It’s exciting. When you see this team, we’ve got so much talent, experience in this clubhouse. A great mix of both. To add a guy like him who’s been there, who’s been there with Mac, won a World Series – it’s just another guy you’re going to learn from and hopefully give us that confidence down the stretch to make a run for it again.”

Manager Brian Snitker:

“You get excited when you add a player of that caliber, and somebody who’s accomplished what he’s accomplished in his career. Whenever you get a top of the rotation guy, you’re excited.”

On how he’ll handle the rotation when the time comes:

“There’s a number of ways we can go. Obviously when he’s ready, he’s going to get slotted in. We’ll deal with that when we get there because anything can happen from now until then. You have to have a plan because if you don’t you’ll get stuck. But in this game, you plan for something and then things have a way of working themselves out.”

On how Keuchel can help the bullpen:

“When our starters are pitching the majority of the innings, we’re going to be doing OK. So anytime you can add a guy like that, it means he takes the ball and he gives you innings. So that does nothing but help your bullpen in the long run.”