Dallas Keuchel gave the Chicago White Sox a boost two years ago, helping a team with an exciting young core reach the play-offs.
He posted a 1.99 ERA and finished fifth in Cy Young’s voting that season. Unfortunately, that turned out to be Keuchel’s most successful season in Chicago.
The veteran southpaw, a five-time Gold Glove winner who won the Cy Young in 2015, was slated for assignment on Saturday.
Keuchel is 2-5 with a 7.88 ERA in eight starts this year. He signed a $55.5 million three-year contract with the White Sox in December 2019.
“You have to look at the career,” said manager Tony La Russa. “He’s got a lot to be proud of. … I don’t think anyone in this uniform wouldn’t trade their career for what he’s done for the next 10, 12 years.”
“Given the back of the baseball card, so to speak, we wanted to give him a chance this season to get back on track,” said general manager Rick Hahn. “It didn’t necessarily take a magical number of starts before we made that decision.”
The 34-year old Keuchel was tagged for six runs and seven hits in two innings in Thursday’s 16-7 loss against the Red Sox. Hahn said they had a “heart-to-heart” talk the next day.
“He expressed his own disappointment that he couldn’t deliver what we needed from him,” Hahn said.
The White Sox also have Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Dylan Cease and Johnny Cueto in their rotation, and Lance Lynn is returning from right knee surgery. Vince Velasquez made seven starts for the team before pitching three hitless innings in relief on Tuesday-evening.
The White Sox also recalled Triple-A Charlotte infielder Danny Mendick for Saturday night’s game against the crosstown Cubs.
Keuchel broke through with Houston in 2012, where he played for seven seasons. He won the AL Cy Young Award in 2015, 20-8 with a 2.48 ERA in 33 starts for the Astros.
Keuchel is 101-187 with a 3.86 ERA in 262 games in his career, including 251 starts.
Keuchel is owed $14,456,044 for the remainder of his contract: $2,956,044 in salary for the remainder of this season, plus a $1.5 million buyout of his 2023 option.
If he is released, another team can sign him for a proportionate share of the $700,000 minimum, with the White Sox responsible for the rest.
Whether that financial incentive will prompt a team to take a shot at Keuchel remains to be seen.
There has been some speculation on social media this weekend, including around the Mets (31-17), who lead the NL East by 8.5 games, but have a team ERA of 3.75, barely better than the league average.
However, a return to Houston, the team that drafted and developed him, seems unlikely.
The Astros have the third best team ERA in MLB at 2.94 and have a rotation led by Justin Verlander (2.03), Framber Valdez (2.83) and Cristian Javier (2.43).
Reporting by the Associated Press.
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