If the Chicago Cubs want to solidify the starting rotation, they’ll need to make a move. Could left-hander Dallas Keuchel be the answer for the club?
This all feels oddly familiar. For the second time in as many years, the Cubs are talking about how there’s simply no money to add impactful free agents. Most of us thought it couldn’t get much worse than last offseason. Boy, were we wrong.
Now Chicago is reportedly trying to shop some of their biggest names to try and shed payroll. There have been very few notable free agents the Cubs have been linked to this offseason. That’s particularly concerning because of the need for a second baseman, center fielder, leadoff hitter, and another starting pitcher – not to mention shoring up the bullpen.
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Some good news for Cubs fans came this week. On Wednesday Mark Feinsand reported that Chicago is one of several teams “in” on free agent pitcher Dallas Keuchel. The other teams interested in signing Keuchel are the White Sox, Padres, Cardinals and Angels. Earlier this month Bruce Levine also reported that the Cubs were interested in the former World Series champion.
The Cubs have a serious need for Keuchel with how the starting rotation is constructed. With Cole Hamels leaving for the Braves via free agency and Jon Lester and Jose Quintana potentially entering the final year of their respective deals, there is a clear need for starting pitching on the North Side.
Keuchel tested free agency last offseason and ended up not signing with the Braves until June. He will turn 32 early next year and had a solid season considering the circumstances of not being on a team until the middle of the season. In 19 games (112 2/3 IP) he posted a 3.75 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. Of course, Keuchel won the American League Cy Young Award back in 2015 with Houston, as well.
On paper, this seems like a no-brainer for the Cubs to go out and get Keuchel because of the need for starting pitching. As I noted above, the story of the last two offseasons has been money. It has been no secret that the team is trying to cut payroll this offseason and Theo Epstein is willing to listen on just about anyone on the roster.
It’s also become clear that until Chicago makes some moves to shed payroll, there simply isn’t any money to play with, as ownership has put a hard stop on more spending and may very well have mandated the club get back under the luxury tax threshold as soon as 2020.
One option for the Cubs could be moving Jose Quintana, who is slated to make $10.5 million next season, his final year under team control. If they do so, it will free up another rotation spot – one that could potentially go to someone like Keuchel. Tyler Chatwood remains a potential member of the staff, as well, after he turned in a solid bounceback campaign in 2019.
I still believe that it is still probably a long shot that the Cubs do sign Keuchel – especially until they cut some payroll. He seems like a good fit with this team, especially if the club can field a quality infield behind him and allow him to take advantage of some easy outs.