The Minnesota Twins will be in the market to improve their pitching staff in the coming weeks, but Dallas Keuchel is one name they should cross off their list.
The Minnesota Twins have had a terrific start to the 2019 season. Even after losing to the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night, the Twins own a 40-19 record that is the best in Major League Baseball and have shown plenty of signs that they will be in the mix for at least a playoff spot for the duration of the season.
While the Twins seem like a fool-proof bet to reach October, there are always moves that a team can make to make themselves better. One of the moves that has been discussed is bringing on starter Dallas Keuchel.
The former Houston Astros ace remains on the market despite a career that saw him win the 2015 Cy Young Award and compile a 76-63 record with a 3.66 ERA and hasn’t seen an offer that he has deemed worthy to end his long offseason.
In the same way that a lumberjack would kill a mosquito with an ax, some believe that the addition of Keuchel would not only slam the door shut in the American League Central, but push the Twins toward the top of the food chain in the American League. While adding Keuchel’s name to Minnesota’s rotation would look sexy, it’s just not worth bringing him aboard.
A big reason to avoid Keuchel is the trend that free agent pitchers have established over the past couple of years. Teams have shunned giving big contracts to pitchers on the market because they’re essentially ticking time bombs with their shoulders and elbows ready to give way at any moment.
An example that the Twins would be familiar with would be 2018 free-agent target Yu Darvish. Many thought Minnesota missed a huge opportunity to add an ace to their rotation when Darvish agreed to a six-year deal with the Chicago Cubs, but that deal now looks like a nightmare due to poor performance (3-6, 4.99 ERA last two seasons) and the fact he’ll be 36 when his deal expires in 2023.
Keuchel has the same buyer beware that Darvish had for more than the reason both were the same age (31) when they started looking for their massive pay day. The lefty battled shoulder problems throughout the entire 2016 season (9-12, 4.55 ERA) and dealt with a pinched nerve in his neck the following year.
Any time a pitcher has a shoulder injury, it should be a giant red flag and although Keuchel remained healthy last year, his 12-11 record with a 3.74 ERA was a huge leap from a 14-5, 2.90 ERA during the Astros’ World Series run in 2017. There were also reports that Keuchel had lost some of his velocity in 2018, which should set off even more alarms in the Twins’ front office.
If Keuchel was the only option the Twins had, it might make sense to try to sign him. However, there are plenty of alternative options that Minnesota could also go on the trade market. Although it might cost more than they would like to spend to acquire Toronto’s Marcus Stroman or San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner, they have prospects to pull it off without gutting their entire farm system.
Make no mistake, the Twins should go all in on this team, because they are shaping up to be something special if this continues throughout the summer. However, for a team that is looking for the best possible way to enhance their roster, there are other ways to go than acquiring a 31-year old that seems to be on a downward trend.