With everyone’s attention on the big two free agents, there are very possible and plausible free agents still out there that the Sox can at to the team. We looked at center fielder AJ Pollock, reliever Adam Ottavino, and utility man Marwin Gonzalez who are all still out there. The starter market is one of the few that is moving, Patrick Corbin, Yusei Kikuchi, and Nathan Eovaldi already finding homes, that leaves Dallas Keuchel as the top ranked starter left on the board. Could Dallas be the, “John Lester,” for the young White Sox pitching staff? Let’s take a look, shall we?
Dallas is a 31 year old pitcher, who has spent his entire professional career in Houston. Keuchels accolades speak for themselves, he is a two time all star, a four time gold glove winner, he won the Cy Young award in 2015, and of course anchored the 2017 World Series champion Astros. In 6 seasons Dallas has been worth 18.7 fangraphs WAR in his career, he was a late bloomer, he didn’t “arrive on the scene,” (not exceeding his rookie limits) until he was 25. Kiley McDaniel, from Fangraphs, predicts Dallas will get a 4 year 84 million dollar deal getting 21 million annually. Dallas is a lefty which will net him more money, but should it be with the Sox?
Many reports have Dallas asking for a five year deal, and he has met with several teams including the Reds, the Brewers, and the Phillies. Three teams with a starting pitching need and a lot of available money to spend.
Dallas would be a great fit pitching in Guaranteed Rate as he gives up less than one home run per nine innings over his career, and keeps the ball on the ground more than most other pitchers, having a career 58.8 percent ground ball rate.
In addition to his low home run and high ground ball totals, Dallas brings leadership and experience, to a young White Sox staff. Being Drafted in 2009, Dallas witnessed the entire Astros rebuild, which was far more painful than than the Sox rebuild. Within 6 years he was called upon to be the leader in 2017 (Astros World Series run). His leadership skills shined when the 2017 trade deadline was looming and the Astors hadn’t made a move to solidify their staff. As the deadline approached, Dallas called Justin Verlander in Detroit and convinced him to waive his no trade clause, so Justin could join the team for their World Series run. Leadership is valuable, especially to a young team, Hahn made that clear with the signings of Yonder Alonso and James McCann.
Personally though, I wouldn’t sign Dallas, this franchise is heavy on pitching already and they need to see these, “green horns,” perform. If you sign Keuchel, which pitcher doesn’t start? There just doesn’t seem to be room right now, especially if your going to give up 21 a year for the next four or five years. His stats are still good, but they’ve been declining over the last couple years. Father time has arrived too, as injuries have been compiling for Dallas. 2016 saw him deal with shoulder injuries all year and rendered him an average starting pitcher. 2017 was no better, since he had dealt with a pinched nerve in his neck. 2018 he regained his health, but we begun to see regression in his game. His ground ball rate dropped to 54 percent and his strikeout rate dropped to a career low 17.5 percent. His cutter was the only pitch that did not generate a lower whiff rate from 2017 to 2018, and that only grew by one tenth of a point. So for now, let’s save that money and put it towards more pressing needs or some superstars that will be free agents in 2020. For a peek at some great names on the market in 2020, check out Andy’s piece on Rick Hahn’s Contingency Plan.
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