UPDATE (8/3) - As it turns out, the Twins aren't letting Dallas Keuchel get away after all. Minnesota placed Joe Ryan on the 15-day IL and selected Keuchel's contract, which means he's been added to the 40-man roster and will be joining the team at the Major League level.
It was an embarrassingly quiet trade deadline for the Minnesota Twins. Not a single deal was made after the team traded away Jorge Lopez, which was an admittance of defeat on a big deadline deal from last year.
Both trades the Twins made at the deadline last year blew up in their face, with Lopez now in Miami and Tyler Mahle done until 2025 after needing Tommy John surgery. It’s hard to say whether those deals failing paralyzed the front office or not, but the inactivity didn’t sit well with anyone in Twins Territory.
Minnesota did end up making a transaction on Tuesday, though.
Former Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel had an opt out in his contract that he signed with the Twins last month, and he exercised the right to be released after not getting called up.
Twins Rumors: Dallas Keuchel opts out of deal, is now a free agent
According to The Athletic’s Britt Ghiroli, Keuchel decided to opt out of his contract with the Twins late Tuesday night.
The optics of this are even worse juxtaposed against it happening after the cowardly trade deadline the Twins had. Keuchel is far removed from the peak of his career, coming to the Twins on a minor league deal in at the beginning of June, but he was impressive at St. Paul.
Keuchel posted a 1.13 ERA over six starts and 32 inning with the Saints, with a 61.5 percent ground ball rate. While that all looks pretty good, he did post a 21.2 percent strikeout rate and 9.1 percent walk rate, which is less than ideal.
What likely caused Keuchel to return to free agency was an unwillingness by the Twins to call him up. To be fair, there aren’t many obvious places to put him at the majors, as the rotation is full and he’s not really a bullpen arm. Still, his ground ball rate looks good with a bullpen unit that has struggled all season, and might have served as the relief help the front office didn’t seek at the deadline.
Then again, calling Keuchel up would have required a few corresponding moves including adding him to the 40-man roster and bumping someone off.
As far as what happens next, the Twins clearly see guys like Louie Varland, Chris Paddack, and Simeon Woods Richardson as more viable options to fill rotation or bullpen roles than Keuchel. There could have been an unwillingness on his part to take one of those roles as well, and his time with the Twins might have been more of a tune up for him than anything else.
It just doesn’t seem like it was a fit, however the optics of having him not be a total disaster at St. Paul could come back to bite the Twins if he latches on with a contender and turns in meaningful innings during a postseason run.