left handed Dallas Keuchel went through unclaimed release waivers, SNY’s Andy Martino reports. He is now a free agent and can explore opportunities with other clubs.
It was inevitable once the White Sox nominated Keuchel for assignment over the weekend. The southpaw still owes just under $13 million in salary in 2022, plus a $1.5 million buyout on a 2023 club option. No team was going to claim Keuchel and take on that tab, so that was a formality that he clears waivers and strikes free agency.
Now that he’s available on the open market, the 34-year-old is said to have more appeal for other clubs. The White Sox will remain on the hook for virtually all of Keuchel’s remaining guaranteed commitments. Any team that signs him will only owe him the pro-rated portion of the $700,000 minimum wage for any time he spends in the majors, which would be subtracted from Chicago’s financial expenses.
Absent the financial risk, it seems likely that Keuchel will find a major league contract somewhere. Still, the fact that the White Sox let him go despite a questionable rotational return mix indicates the extent of the struggles the 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner has had over the past two seasons. Signed on a three-year, $55.5million guarantee during the 2019-20 offseason, Keuchel posted a £1.99 ERA over 11 starts during the shortened 2020 season. Since the start of the 2021 campaign, however, he has been among the least effective starters in the game.
Keuchel remained healthy and made 32 appearances (30 starts) for the division-winning ChiSox last year, but his rate stats were below average. He posted a 5.28 ERA — his first season even allowing more than four of nine earned runs since 2016 — on 162 frames. Even at his best, Keuchel never missed many at bats, but he saw his strikeout rate drop to 13.2 percent last year. His 54.9 percent ground ball rate was still well above average, but the two-time All-Star had induced worm burners on more than three-fifths of the balls hit in his prime.
These worrying trends have only worsened this year. Keuchel has a 7.88 ERA in eight starts, the second highest among 137 pitchers with 30+ innings. He has the second-worst strikeout/walking rate differential among that same group, with corresponding ratings of 12.2%. Keuchel’s grounder rate is also down a few more points (albeit still strong), at 50.8%. That slow start led to the White Sox cutting the bait, although another team is likely to give him an opportunity based on his pre-2021 record.
Keuchel, of course, was one of the best pitchers in the game between 2014 and 2020. He posted four Under 3.00 ERA campaigns during that time as the preeminent ground ball specialist, helping the Astros win a solid series of successes. He’s unlikely to return to that form at this stage of his career, but another club could still see him as a capable back-end option – particularly if he can get his base rate up a few points. in a new environment. .
The White Sox have had a very heavy starting rotation this season, which was to be expected. Dylan Quit, Michael Kopech and Lucas Giolito all performed well. Keuchel and signatory of the offseason Vince Velasquez struggled, while the veteran Johnny Cueto was effective through three starts. Bolstering the back-end numbers to be a business priority for general manager Rick Hahn and his team if the team remains in contention over the next few months, especially if Velasquez continues to battle it out while holding onto the last spot.