By DAN ZIELINSKI
Dallas Keuchel remains on the free-agent market despite the regular season nearing. He was the second-best starting pitcher available this offseason behind left-hander Patrick Corbin, who signed a six-year, $140 million deal with the Washington Nationals on Dec. 7,
Keuchel has been one of baseball’s top left-handed pitchers over the last five years. The 31-year-old hurler hoped to land a deal similar to Corbin’s this offseason but his age likely scared teams away.
With the major-league season beginning in nearly two weeks, Keuchel likely won’t get a deal anywhere near his initial demand and will have to settle for a short-term deal.
If Keuchel is willing to sign a two-year deal worth around $30 million, the Milwaukee Brewers should jump at the opportunity to sign the former Cy Young winner.
The veteran pitcher is coming off a season where he pitched in a career-high 34 games and posted a 3.74 ERA with 153 strikeouts and 58 walks in 204 2/3 innings.
Although he led the league with 211 hits allowed and saw his strikeouts per nine innings drop to 6.7, Keuchel would give the Brewers a top-of-the-rotation pitcher they desperately need if they want to duplicate last year’s success.
Keuchel attacks the zone and generates a high ground ball rate, making him an ideal fit for Miller Park. He also would give the Brewers’ rotation stability, something they don’t have.
Jhoulys Chacin is coming off a career year, Zach Davies and Chase Anderson haven’t displayed consistency throughout their careers, and Jimmy Nelson is a wildcard after missing all last season. Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, Freddy Peralta and Zack Brown are all young arms without a proven track record at the major-league level.
Last season, the rotation performed well with the assistance of a deep bullpen, but the Brewers can’t hope for a similar outcome again. No one knows what to expect from any of the Brewers’ current rotation options because they all have question marks and have never displayed consistency from a year-to-year basis.
Keuchel and the Brewers are an ideal match. He gives them veteran leadership, playoff experience and would provide stability to a rotation that doesn’t have that. The Brewers, despite being a small-market team, can afford him, especially if they’re serious about winning a World Series this season.