Although MLB is starved for quality starters, former Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel still does not have a job, and he won’t take one for less than what he thinks he’s worth.
“If you would’ve asked me on the first day of free agency, I would have said no way I’d be here on May 6,” Keuchel told Yahoo Sports on Monday. “This was not the plan at all. I would love to be out there playing ball and helping a team win. Because, to my career at this point, I’ve done more winning than I have losing and at a much higher clip. So what team wouldn’t want me to be out there? Am I the best at this point in time? No. But am I more than or better than some of the offers I’ve been given? Absolutely.
“That’s not me being greedy. That’s just my compensation in the market from what the analytical data is telling me. I didn’t come up with this. The front offices came up with this. So now they’re trying to tell me I’m less than what the analytical data is saying. How is that possible?”
Keuchel, 31, went 12-11 last season with a 3.74 ERA in a league-leading 34 starts for the Astros. The left-hander won 14 games and had a 2.90 ERA during Houston’s 2017 World Series-winning season. He won the Cy Young in 2015 with a 20-8 record, 2.48 ERA and league-leading 232 innings pitched. So how does a workhorse lefty not have a job at this point in the season?
Keuchel’s situation is complicated by the fact that he turned down a one-year, $17.9 million qualifying offer. That made him a free agent but also attached draft pick compensation to him. Former Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel is in the same boat. Any team that signs one of them before the draft has to give up a pick. After the June MLB draft, that goes away.
Keuchel says he has turned down numerous offers presented to him by agent Scott Boras.
“I told him no on numerous deals because it’s about principle,” Keuchel said. “It’s about fair market value. And I wasn’t getting that.”
Many have argued that draft pick compensation hurts veterans because teams are wary to pay what it costs to land a player with an extensive résumé and lose out on young players in the draft as well. Keuchel didn’t start out being a poster boy for the issue, but he’s embracing the role now.
“When people tweet at me, saying, ‘Hey, quit being the Le’Veon Bell of baseball,’ it is a funny line. But he stood up for himself. He stood up for his well-being,” Keuchel said to Yahoo. “And I’m standing up for my well-being as well. It’s about principle in both situations. Now, I’m not looking to sit out this whole year. I wasn’t looking to sit out at all. But we are in this situation right now. I would love to sign tomorrow.”
One of those teams could be the Yankees, whose starting ranks have been decimated by injuries. But at this point, the Bronx Bombers appear to be content to wait. In the meantime, Keuchel pitches to junior college players in California.
“My asking price and my due diligence is not just out of left field. It has come to me through my own career path, my own career numbers, and then what my market is valued at this point in time,” he told the website. “To this point it hasn’t been matched. It’s been less than what it should be. And this is out of principle, what’s going on right now. I can’t speak for other players. It’s a principle for me. I’m not asking for the world.”