We interrupt Date Nights everywhere to provide some breaking news: Dallas Keuchel is now on the Chicago White Sox.
Late Saturday, Jeff Passan and others tweeted that the White Sox and the eight-year veteran southpaw had agreed on a three-year, $55.5 million deal (there is a vesting option worth $18.5 million for the 2023 season).
Keuchel White Sox deal: 3/$55.5M with a vesting 4th year that could take to 4/$74M— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 22, 2019
And yes, that deal was signed with Keuchel’s agent ... wait for it ... readyyyy ... SCOTT BORAS.
*The White Sox made a deal with Scott Boras.*— South Side Hit Pen (@southsidehitpen) December 22, 2019
If that doesn't tell you we could be heading into a magical 2020 season, I don't know what will.
The move solidifies the White Sox rotation, offering balance with a second lefty (teaming with back-end option Gio González, signed just yesterday to a one-year deal, second-year option). It also adds experience to a core-four group of righthanders (Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo López, Dylan Cease, Michael Kopech) who average just 42 starts in their major league careers.
Much has been made of Keuchel’s so-called decline as the former Cy Young winner enters his age-32 season. But like González in 2019, Keuchel was amazingly productive in essentially half of a season. After failing to secure the sort of long-term commitment he just inked with the White Sox, Keuchel signed on June 7 with the Atlanta Braves and ended up getting only 19 starts in an abbreviated season. All DK did in those 19 starts was put up 2.1 pitching bWAR, which on a per-start basis was the fourth-best rate of his career.
Keuchel had a 3.75 ERA with a more worrisome 4.72 FIP, but his strikeout rate remains consistent now into his 30s. As a sinkerballer, the lefty’s profile fits well in a venue like Sox Park, where keeping the ball down as a pitcher is a must.
Keuchel is also a stellar fielder, having earned four Gold Gloves — basically an automatic winner at this stage of his career. Teamed with 2019 Gold Glove finalist Giolito, that’s a big of unexpected strength up the middle!
Without making a judgment on Nomar Mazara’s acquisition yet, let’s break down the three huge positive swings the White Sox have taken this offseason:
- Upgrading from James McCann (1.0 WARP in 2019) to Yasmani Grandal (6.1 WARP): Five wins
- Upgrading the No. 5 rotation spot (Dylan Covey/Ross Detwiler/Odrisamer Despaigne/Ervin Santana/Carson Fulmer, -2.9 bWAR in 2019) to González (3.2 full-season projected bWAR in 2019): Six wins
- Upgrading the No. 4 rotation spot (Hector Santiago/Dylan Cease/Carlos Rodón/Manny Bañuelos, -0.7 bWAR in 2019) to Keuchel (3.4 full-season projected bWAR in 2019): Four wins
I mean, projections assuming last year’s performance will be this year’s is silly, but it’s a reasonable enough method. And using such, these three drastic improvements bump the White Sox from 72 wins to 87. That’s Wild Card territory, people.
And as long as we’re there, it bears mentioning Keuchel has been a clutch performer in the playoffs in his career, sporting an 3.47 ERA compared against his 3.67 career mark, as well as 0.69 win probability added.
Let me explain what Dallas Keuchel brings to the team. When any of the young pitchers ask about post season play he knows. When the guys ask what it’s like to pitch for a Cy Young Award he knows. When they ask about what it feels like to win a World Series he knows. Big plus— Steve Stone (@stevestone) December 22, 2019