Nine days after the news broke, the Chicago White Sox made the signing of Dallas Keuchel official.
The team announced the contract as three years at $18 million each, with a team option for $20 million in 2023 (or a $1.5 million buyout). The contract was originally reported by several sources as having an vesting option attached to innings pitched, kicking in the fourth year automatically, but Monday’s White Sox announcement indicates that is not so.
“We viewed Dallas as one of the premier free agent pitchers available this winter, and so are thrilled to add him to this team and to our starting rotation,” White Sox GM Rick Hahn says. “Dallas is a great competitor, who we foresee throwing valuable innings in meaningful games for us over the next several years and leading our entire pitching staff through his example day-in and day-out.”
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.
The southpaw finished 2019 strong, as he got his legs under him, with a 5-3 record and 2.55 ERA in his final nine starts. And Keuchel was nails against lefthanders, choking them to a .189 average, which would have ranked seventh in the National League with the required innings pitched. His career mark against lefty batters is .227, the 11th-best mark among lefty starters since 2012.
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 bit of unexpected strength up the middle!
The southpaw owns a career 4-2 record with a 3.47 ERA (against a 3.67 regular season career ERA), 52 strikeouts, .234 opponents average and 0.69 win probability added in 12 career appearances (11 starts) in the postseason (2015, 2017-19).
Keuchel originally was selected in the seventh round of the 2009 draft out of the University of Arkansas, where he was teammates with White Sox catcher James McCann in 2009.