Two days ago, the Braves saw longtime innings-eater Julio Teheran depart for Anaheim. On Saturday, another member of their 2019 rotation went to the American League.
Left-hander Dallas Keuchel, who spent last season with the Braves, reportedly signed with the White Sox on Saturday night, as ESPN’s Jeff Passan first reported. Keuchel had a 3.75 ERA across 112-2/3 innings in 2019.
The southpaw spent the first seven years of his career with the Astros, winning a Cy Young in 2015 and a World Series title in 2017. A Scott Boras client, Keuchel underwent a lengthy free-agent process a year ago that dragged into the regular season. The Braves signed him to a one-year, $13 million deal in June, when Keuchel was no longer attached to draft-pick compensation (because he declined the Astros’ qualifying offer).
Keuchel was signed to bring consistency and credibility to a young rotation. He posted a sub-4.00 ERA and struck out 91 against 39 walks in 19 starts. He started Game 1 and Game 4 of the NLDS, allowing four runs (three homers) on nine hits in eight innings.
The Braves weren’t expected to retain Keuchel and chose to replace him with another veteran lefty, Cole Hamels, whom the team signed earlier this month. Keuchel fetched interest from the Angels, among others, but found a suitor in Chicago, which will reportedly pay him more than $55 million over the next three seasons. Keuchel also received a vesting option that could bring the contract’s value to $74 million, per Passan.
Like last season’s Braves, the White Sox are seeking an innings-consumer. Keuchel can do just that while mentoring their younger pitchers. Chicago is trying to take steps toward relevancy after undergoing a complete teardown.
Keuchel, while no longer a Cy Young-caliber pitcher, pitched 145-2/3 innings or more in six consecutive seasons before his shorter 2019. He hit the 200-innings plateau three times in that span and did so most recently in 2018, when he made a career-high 34 starts.
While Keuchel’s Braves tenure might seem underwhelming, especially in the postseason, he served a much-needed role in the regular season. Mike Soroka and Max Fried, two youngsters headlining an enticing rotation, praised Keuchel’s leadership and mentorship throughout the campaign.
The Braves are moving forward with a rotation of Soroka, Fried, Hamels and Mike Foltynewicz. The fifth spot could go a number of directions, including left-hander Sean Newcomb, one of the team’s several pitching prospects or a veteran added later in the winter.
Keuchel is the second Braves free agent to depart this week after mainstay Teheran signed with the Angels. Teheran received a one-year deal. The Braves lost over 287 innings between their departures, which creates a subplot for the 2020 season: Will the Braves’ depth and/or newcomers adequately replace those innings?
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